By Meredith Cocker, Camden 15. Gonzaga University. Adapted from her blog.
During JVC DisOrientation, one of our program coordinators talked to us about liminal spaces. About finding ourselves in this weird time of transition where you haven’t quite left behind the place you just were and you haven’t quite settled into the place in which you find yourself now. She talked about the fact that these transitions can take a lot of time, and she talked about her own struggle with liminal spaces and transition after JVC. I sat there and thought about how I was already in my liminal space and by the time I started my graduate school program, I’d be totally fine. Sure, I’d miss my community and feel unfamiliar with a new college campus, but I’d be fine.
I didn’t have any real demarcation between the end of JVC and the beginning of my Master’s program, and I set it up that way intentionally. I didn’t have time between programs to take a break or go home, so instead of ending one program and immediately starting the next, I blended it. I moved all my stuff into my room on campus with the help of my community members, but then I went back to Camden with them and stayed there as many nights as possible even though I had started Orientation during the day. I still think that was the right choice and I don’t have regrets about the way it happened, but it means that the past couple days are the first days I’ve had a real opportunity to reflect on how I’m feeling. Let me tell you… my program coordinator was SO right.
I find myself wishing I was in a space to be reflecting on my JV year as a whole and thinking about what I learned and what I still have yet to learn (like how to find God in unexpected places and how to really take care of myself and how to ask for help) but the reality is that those reflections will come in bits and pieces as I settle into the next thing – it’s not going to be one big reflection that comes all at once.
The other reality is that I suddenly find myself in a full-time Master’s program where I live on a college campus and minister to students while also taking classes with some doctoral and some Master’s students about subjects that have a tendency to fly over my head. While I know that the people here are wonderful and supportive and I am sure that eventually I will get the hang of the academic side of things, it’s really hard to settle in and feel at home when everything is so new and unfamiliar. It’s hard to settle in when I miss my community like hell – when these people I spent a year getting to know and letting them get to know me to the point where they are family and then are suddenly no longer the people to whom I come home each day. It’s hard to settle in when I so deeply miss the students and adults I worked with every day last year.
As I write this it sounds like I’m really struggling, but I swear I’m actually okay. It’s just that this work of settling in and this liminal space thing was much harder than I thought it would be, and I think it’s okay to admit that. Change is hard. But it’s comforting to know that my community is just a text or call or drive away if I need them. It’s comforting to know that I can go back to Cristo Rey to visit or help out. It’s comforting to know that the academics will eventually feel like something I can wrap my head around. It’s comforting knowing that there are people present in my life and on this campus that are here to support me.
If you need me I’ll be listening to Rise Up by Andra Day on repeat and trying to figure out my 400 pages of Theology reading while simultaneously trying to lean into this whole liminal space thing and giving myself pep talks. I’ve got this.