Today marks two years in Boston, and the end of my 2nd year in grad school.

After a tumultuous Year One, I thought I was set for a somewhat more “stable” feeling year Two. But Two felt…lost. A loss of direction, voice, and health. I struggled to find the right research questions, and questioned whether I was cut out for the academic life. I began flaring every other month due to the physical and psychological stress brought on by a deepening sense of imposter syndrome. I found myself repeatedly telling my roommate that I had never really struggled with anxiety until grad school. A new feeling of constant breathlessness washed over many of my days.

Is it worth it?

I have been told that I maintain a generally ‘sunny’ or ‘bubbly’ attitude towards life. But a close friend recently commented on my muted demeanor and asked, “what happened to the ‘life-giving’ city of Boston?” It’s a good question. I recognize that my feelings are certainly exacerbated by the “unprecedented times”—I find myself mourning the loss of the art, music, travel, worship, and deepening friendships (+ human contact in general) that I used to fill my days with. But I am also left questioning whether I had simply been distracting myself with a schedule full of “obligations” and exciting novelties, enamored by the inevitable honeymoon phase that is Year One.

These days, I play Glenn Gould’s rendition of the Bach Goldberg Variations on repeat for hours while I code, read, and write, three feet away from where I sleep. I only listen to Bach when I am grasping for a sense of structure, safety, stability. A strange coping mechanism, I know. The inner child in me is fearful; she seeks any semblance of normalcy, of the familiar.

Yet, we only grow when we are being stretched…

So in these days, I am also asking myself new questions:

  • What do I really consider “freedom” to be and why do I value it so highly?
  • What does the “balance” I desire (balance of interests, of friendships; the blend of life and career) really look like?
  • How do I want to focus on my faith, my faith community, and my ministry in the coming years?
  • How do I hold space for my past, while making room for my present and future?

I do not write these things because I have answers, but because I am human. I write to hold myself accountable, to practice the hard work of true vulnerability instead of the packaged, processed, and more “palatable” thoughts and emotions that I often veil behind the safety of hindsight and refine through the mill of interpretation.

So, I keep on in the ways I know— through prayer, reading of the Psalms, and a daily practice of thanksgiving. No one is ever really prepared for life’s challenges; if we were, they wouldn’t be challenges, would they?

We all have our own proverbial mountains to scale, especially in these times. But often, the “journey is the reward.” Let’s not forget to notice the beauty in the pain, and to find joy in the small things of each day. For me, this is Saturday mornings reading in the neighborhood park, cooking for the people I love, and being honest about where I’m at.

In spite of the heartache, here’s a Happy Two Years to you, Boston.

With Love,


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