On finishing my degree

Today I learnt that I passed my counselling degree with distinction, drawing a line under four plus years of training and studying.
As an editor and wannabee writer it’s rare I am stuck for words. But I am have been putting off writing this post. Firstly because after ESSAY HELL there were no more words left to scrape from the exhausted void that was my brain. But if this course has taught me anything is that sometimes we know more than we can say. Even HSWNBN, who has lived through this course with me in a way neither of us anticipated, can never truly understand what it was like. I felt that my course mates and me were battered survivors weathering something that outsiders could not understand. It was like ‘Nam ‘You don’t know man. You weren’t there.’  🙂
How can I ever summarise the journey I have been on these past two years? To borrow from Dickens:

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’

And somehow, god knows how, I survived it.
I feel so cheesy writing this, but in becoming a counsellor I have realised a life long dream. Ever since, I was first in counselling myself, sat in the client chair thinking ‘I could do that and better than you!’ I’ve wanted to be a counsellor. But I put off studying counselling for a long time rationalising I did not have enough money, time or the right experience. Deep down I was worried that I wouldn’t be a good counsellor and how that failure might make me feel about myself. I clearly remember shaking with fear before I met with my first client. I had loved the theory and the experiential classes, but what if I hated being alone in a room with a client? But it was so much better than I ever could have imagined. I love being a counsellor, even on the bad days when I so tired and overwhelmed. I can see that I make a difference, that I have touched people and when I leave this world I will have made an impact.
This course was a healing experience for me. In school, college and at University the feedback was always the same: ‘Rowan is talented but unless she tries harder she will never fulfil her potential.’ Except I was trying, really, really hard. But although verbally I got great feedback, my written work always let me down. It wasn’t until I was in the final year of my degree that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I knew when I started this counselling degree that I wanted to attempt to achieve what I knew I was capable of. And I did but in a different way than I envisioned. Throughout the first year writing essays was like opening a vein, I could not have been more depleted mentally, physically and emotionally. I could not have tried harder. Then Lianne died before the beginning of the second year and I realised that surviving was more important than writing the perfect essay. There were moments when I thought grief would drag me under, where outside events would force me to make for sure. I am a coper and a survivor but this course tested me to my limits.
Any of you who have ever studied while working knows what a difficult balance it can be. Add in placements and reading and essay writing and the time I had for anything other than studying and sleeping shrank. What made this infinitely harder was that we all were counselling other people while in the process of deconstructing our selves, pulling the bits apart piece by piece. It has been the most emotionally intense experience of my life. And I both glad and sad that is over.
When I started this course, my secret hope was that I would make friends. I always watch HWSNBN enviously as he can talk to anybody. On this course, I met some amazing people some of whom I may not see again, others who I hope will always be part of my life. Everybody on this course has taught me something about myself and being in the world. Even if I lose people along the way, I feel happier just to know they are out there somewhere.
I am very good at skipping past endings but for now I want to pause and just take in the fact that I achieved this. I am so proud of myself (I’m so proud of all of us!). It wasn’t easy but by God I earnt it.
It was epically wonderful, it was soul destroyingly painful and now it’s done.


  1. shirleyj52
    June 21, 2013 / 6:13 pm

    Made me sad to read this as it was such a struggle for you. It is a testament to your courage that you could keep going, and did so at a cost. But now you can become a wonderful counsellor should your path take u that way. No you have got backup with the acknowledgement of the dyslexia and have got the laptop you might go back to writing. Hope this does not sound like pressure again!Or pressure via mum ‘s expectations ? I just know that it was always a first love of yours With love Mum x Sent from my iPad

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