At 22, I am one of the youngest students in my 1st year clinical PsyD cohort. Unfortunately, grad school makes you grow up pretty quickly, and I’ve been acting more like 32.
Allow me to explain. Grad school is a lot of work. There is a lot of studying and working, and sometimes we forget to have fun. I keep dreaming of my future life as a clinical psychologist and planning my house and my practice and all the other details that in reality I have a lot of time to think about. I go to bed on most nights between 10 and 11pm, and wake up at 6:30. At practicum, the other interns (who are all several years older than me, so it may be more appropriate for them) and I cuddle with the other clinicians’ babies and dream out loud about weddings and rings. On the weekends, my housemates go out to bars and throw epic parties, and when they invite me, I just laugh. All I want to do on Friday and Saturday nights is stay in, eat Chinese take-out, and watch a movie. It’s not that I’m anti-social, I’m just exhausted. And I feel like I’m too old for all that- and that’s a problem.
On Friday, I went out with a few PsyD friends I met during orientation that I rarely see (we have no classes together). We were celebrating one of their birthdays slightly belatedly. We went to the Cheesecake Factory located about 10 minutes from MSPP. It wasn’t until that dinner that I finally felt my age for the first time since classes began in September. I no longer felt like a doctoral student, I felt like a 22-year-old girl out to dinner with her girlfriends, gossiping about sex and movies and wine. Sometimes, it’s fun to pretend you’re all grown up because you’re living on your own and in grad school. Other times, you just really need to act your age, and cause a scene by laughing too loudly about inappropriate things in the Cheesecake Factory.
To celebrate acting our age, our little dinner group decided to throw a pajama and pancake party closer to finals. We are going to have a sleepover, wear our pajamas, eat pancakes, and watch Elf. OK, so maybe this isn’t our real age, and it’s bordering on regression, but of all the Freudian defense mechanisms, regression is my favorite, and I’m OK with that. If you average out 32 and 8, it’s closer to my real age, anyway.