Diary of a Nervous PhD Student: Orientation

February 26, 2015

Dear Tasha,

We are very happy to offer you a position in Cohort 13 of our doctoral program in Counselor Education. Congratulations!


Somebody let me up in their doctoral program!?!?

I mean, of course this was the desired result after going through the application process (really? I have to retake the GRE!?), interview, presentation, and everything else. But….WOAH.

Okay. Fast forward to April 16, 2015. A reception and orientation, which actually turned out to be, “Oh, here are your syllabi and assignments for the first day of your summer classes.”

Around the time of talking over the FOURTH class I’ll be taking this summer (a total of 8 credit hours), I zoned out. I started looking at all of the papers (and more papers) in front of me and asked myself, “Tash, WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING!?”

A LOT of self talk has happened over these past couple of months. Telling myself that the doctorate is the next step from a master’s. It’s the natural progression of academic achievements. Telling myself that there was an entire panel of doctoral program professors who interviewed me, looked at my entire admissions packet, watched and questioned a presentation of mine….AND CHOSE ME.

But still. April 16, 2015 came and I was left feeling overwhelmed and, quite frankly, not cut out for it.

And so started my “Tasha, calm down” process. Complete with a few deep breaths, tears, and gospel music.

A few other things calmed me down after leaving the orientation:

1. Wine.

2. I don’t have to do this.

And that’s the truth. This is not something that is a make or break in my career. My goal is to be a licensed professional counselor, which is something I am working toward right now (National Counselor Examination, here I come!). That can happen. That’s a done deal. So yeah. This isn’t something that is keeping me from achieving my ultimate goal.

I can get trained in ALL kinda of stuff relating to this field. I can write if I want to. I can teach (community college) if I want to. I can open a private practice if I want to. All of this, plus more, can happen with my current undergraduate degree and both of my master’s degrees. The PhD is like the cherry on top of an already satisfying hot fudge sundae. I want it, but I DEFINITELY won’t die without it.

3. I CAN do this.

I openly admit that I am one of those people who usually doesn’t see in myself what others do.¬†Ever since receiving the news that I was accepted into this program, I have gone through a cycle of, “Am I really cut out for this?? Do I deserve this!?” and, “Tasha, CHILL. You EARNED this.” And THAT is the truth.

From the time I shared that I got into the program, I was met with,

“Tasha, your life is over!”

“Enjoy your free time now!”

“How long is it going to take you?”

“Say bye bye to your social life!”

“You’re gonna end up hating it!”

But finally…FINALLY…I was told (by a PhD student at the end of his program), “You’re gonna be fine.”

I needed that. Desperately.

Also, I talked with my former supervisor for my internship during my master’s (who was also a reference for me to get into the doctoral program), and he told me that he has no doubt that, while there may be some stressful times, I will get through it and I will complete it. And he told me that I needed to believe that too.

While I begged people (the few I told) to not share that I was applying to the program (didn’t want to have to tell people I didn’t get in), my mom and close friends weren’t even worried about me getting accepted. They were just waiting on the letter to make it official. They just knew. I, on the other hand, was my usual anxious and “what if” self.¬†Surrounded by people who see in me, what I (at times) can’t see in myself. Amen.

God knew I was going to need affirmation last night. From the time I walked in the door of the reception/orientation with my mom, it started. Professors (who I had in the master’s program as well), told my mom that they saw me, and didn’t want to lose me.


THEY didn’t want to lose ME!

Then, in the middle of orientation, the director came in and told us that we were, indeed, handpicked. She reminded us that there was competition, but we were the ones who were considered the best candidates and were picked to fill the seats.


Tasha, you deserve to be here.

4. The bottom line.

One of the questions I was asked by the panel during my interview is why am I pursuing a PhD. And I answered them honestly.

See, this is more than a professional journey for me. This right here is spiritual. I will never forget the fasting and praying I did in March of 2011, asking God to please guide me in what I was supposed to do. I was so unhappy with my career choice and just knew that couldn’t be life.

Three days. That’s how long it took. And He’s been guiding me and opening door after door for me ever since. I believe, with my WHOLE heart, that this is what HE wants me to do. And if that’s the case, then it is mine. Period. He IS going to make a way. He IS going to carry me. I just have to do my part and remain focused on the ultimate goal, which is to be the best that I can be in the purpose He has set out for me in my life.

So here we are.

I’m going to see how it goes. Registering for the summer classes. Getting my books and starting on my assignments. I can do this.

We’ll see if I make it past the fall (because methods of research AND statistical methods IN. THE. SAME. SEMESTER!? Bruh). If I do, I do. If I don’t, then it wasn’t for me.

Either way, after a few tears (that’s normal for me in times of feeling overwhelmed), some wine, and sleep…I’m encouraged. I’m ready, and I’m pressing forward.

Let’s go!

(CLICK HERE if you want to read more about my path!)

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