What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm No Superman

Ok, so sometimes writing this blog can seem tedious. Other times, it can seem like I am being too personal. The following post is going to be one of those times. This blog is meant to be my catharsis and as such I sometimes use it to get out my feelings. That can be hard for me in a lot of cases so bear with me here as I "pour my heart out" and get across what I am feeling.
I've written on here before about how I am a Type A who likes to stay busy and keep myself active. I've also written briefly about how this has been a rough semester for me. I think I've finally been able to pin down what about this semester has been so rough.
Simply put, and this next part might shock you as it did me, I have been too busy. I know, I don't think I have ever actually uttered those words in my life before now. It's true, though. I have learned that even I can take on too much and this semester has been a perfect example of that. I've realized that I have what many call a "savior complex" meaning that I always have to take on everything and save everybody else because who else is going to do it if I don't? This is also why I have a hard time saying no to people, including myself. Therefore, when it came time to register for classes I told myself that I could handle taking 19 units and still have a social life and do everything else that I like to do.
Well, simply put, that hasn't been the case. While I am staying afloat in my classes and haven't fallen behind, I am also feeling so completely drained at the end of every week. I feel like I have no time for anything but homework. My social life has been almost non-existant and don't even get me started on how little TV I've managed to watch this semester.
I have realized that I haven't been able to make time for the things that nurture my spirit: yoga, playing the guitar, reading for pleasure, TV shows, spending time with friends. All of those activities have been minimal if at all this semester. I've learned my lesson.
What I have learned is that while yes, I can indeed do everything and handle so many things at once, I've realized that I don't actually want to do that anymore. I miss spending time outside of class just relaxing or taking a hike. I miss just watching TV or reading a book. I miss learning to play the guitar or doing yoga. I haven't really had time to do any of those things this semester and that is what has led to it being a rough semester.
I think what I am trying to make clear here is that, quite frankly, I'm worn out. I'm tired of being the over-achiever. I'm sick of always having to feel like I have to stay constantly busy and engaged in order to be happy. Can I do it? Yes, but I don't really want to anymore. I'm at the point where I am kinda craving boredom, if you can believe that. Perhaps it's time for Superman to hang up his cape and retire from being a superhero. Maybe it's time that I acknowledge that I really don't want to do it all anymore.
Registration for Fall Semester starts in a couple weeks and I am going to promise myself not to take on too many classes. I need to remember that 4 (5 at most) is a pretty good load, especially here. I think that way I will be able to fully engage with the material and actually grasp it, which is something that hasn't really happened to me yet this semester.
You have no idea how hard it is for me to admit this publicly (or as public as this blog could be). It's hard to admit that you don't want to do it all anymore. It's hard to confess such a thing and be held accountable for it. Now, the problem is: If I'm no longer everybody's hero or savior, then what am I? What role do I serve then if I'm not serving in the only role I've ever had? Where do I fit in the picture now? Even better question: how do I get to the point where I feel like I can say no to someone, including myself? What needs to happen internally for me to have the self-confidence to say "I'm sorry I can't" or "I'm sorry, I wont"?
Never in a million years would I have ever thought that I would be admitting that I can't/won't do it all. I feel so vulnerable and exposed. I'm really going to spend some time discerning what this means as far as my future, especially the next year. As I've gotten more involved here at school, a lot of opportunities have fallen into my lap that I might need to re-evaluate and decide what I feel like I can honestly give myself fully to this next year. This may mean I choose not to be involved in something or not to apply for something that I really want to do. However, while the resume padding is great, what's more important is that I be able to be fully present and fully there and be able to give myself completely to everything. If I am unable to do that, then I need to say no regardless of how good an opportunity it might be for me. I'm putting myself first. What a concept!!


  1. Good insights, Tad. I went through SFTS too, many years ago, and learned that this is not college. The seminary is to prepare one to be a "professional" in ministry to others. It takes hours in the library, hours more (for me) learning to read Greek and many, many more hours to learn to read Hebrew. New friends weren't Judy, Jean, Gregg and Tom, but Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Jeremiah, Samuel, Isaiah. Then Calvin, Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, Tillich, Kierkegaard, Freedman, Moltmann.

    It wasn't a "social life" that suffered, it was a newly married life. I knew the library stacks better than any street in San Anselmo, or elsewhere. We spent Friday nights with a hamburger and beer in a restaurant on the water in Sausalito, and some Saturdays at Muir Beach. These times were precious islands in a sea of study. Summers were spent working to pay the bills. For two years I had a part-time job (4:00 to 7:00 p.m) as janitor at Ross Elementary school.

    This is what it took to acquire the tools necessary to fulfill the "calling" I felt to ministry. Honing the intellectual, pastoral, emotional, educational skills was more than a full-time job for me--it was a life changing regime that enabled me to become effective in my calling. It is not a matter of being "busy." It is a matter of being focused. "Busy" will get you nowhere. "Focused" will take you far. I realize that much of the time I was not "present". Instead I was in a book, or the 1st Century, or some theological argument, or a parsing table. But, of course, my "presence" was in those places as much or more than "on the hill". For me, seminary preparation was my passion. Most everything else paled for those years. It wasn't that four years later I had learned something. It was that in four years I became someone.

    I suppose it was in seminary that I really "grew up" or matured--enough at least to think I could become a pastor to people two, three, or four times (or half) my age.

    So, I give my blessings and prayers to you for your journey and insight needed to take you from the swamps to the mountain tops and back into the valleys to become prepared to do the work God calls you to do.

    Kent Miller

  2. Tad, had a new thought/story. Back when I was a first year student Dr. Ted Gill was president of SFTS. I signed up to be a driver to drive people to or from the San Francisco airport. One day I picked up Dr. Gill at the airport. We talked all the way back to San Anselmo. I remember asking him what do you have to do to prepare to become a seminary president. He laughed a little and said, "Well, you have to have a lot of arrows in your quiver. It is not any one thing that you do, but as you go through life you prepare yourself and pick up a number of arrows. Then when things come along, you have a quiver full to use at the right time." I don't remember anything else about our conversation, but that one stuck. It almost became my mantra. "Apply yourself and get the arrows as you go, then you will have enough in your quiver for opportunities." I greatly admired Ted Gill, and had a wonderful time at SFTS while he was there. One of the "Giants" on whose shoulders I stand.