Mediation, where art thou?

Sigh. Mediation has never seemed so far away for me. I recognize I’m sounding dramatic, but, well… I guess I’m just not getting along with the program I’m enrolled in (despite it being year #2). I’m not the only one; most, if not all, students in the program are really unsatisfied (and that is a severe understatement).

I’m just not feeling support from the direction of my faculty, my professors. I always assumed professors were supposed to be beacons of intellect and inspiration; at least, they were during my Bachelors process.

The biggest danger here is not of me dropping out of school and not finishing the degree. The biggest danger is that in practice, I like my day job a lot more than my formal studies. I never thought it would happen that way, but here I am, thoroughly enjoying my job (internet marketing for a fair-sized website) and thoroughly despising my university.

The negative karma has totally thrown me off, and I’m way behind in choosing a thesis topic (for now, it’s something to do with the role of collective memory in protracted conflict). I’ve never been way behind in anything in my life, but here I am, feeling alone in my studies and very uninspired.

Sorry about all the negativity. I have been taking steps to take a turn – like seeking my own informal means of study online, through conferences, observations. I guess I was hoping getting all this out in writing would push me to work harder, with more vigor and positive energy… Starting tomorrow?


5 Responses to Mediation, where art thou?

  1. Steve M says:

    Hang in there… the blessing in all of this is that you’re learning who you can rely on and what’s not worth your time. Keep you eye on the ball, which in the case of mediation is life long- you’ll never stop learning. And once your career gets going, these supposed intellectual ‘beacons’ will be followed by true role models and mentors too numerous to count. And when you look back on your school career, you’ll see it was a great start, but only a start. As for picking a thesis topic… my token bit of advice is to chose a bite-size topic that you’ll enjoy. I made the egotistical mistake of thinking my thesis had to be a bunch of grand ideas- wow, was I wrong. The reality, in my case, was that I learned to write, research, and think critically. At the end of the day, I find that if you’re not enjoying it, you won’t finish it. Society needs specialists like us, so don’t sell yourself short.
    Sincerely, a a recent graduate and *budding* mediator.

  2. You mentioned assuming that “professors were supposed to be beacons of intellect and inspiration.” I wonder if that expectation increases with regard to professors teaching conflict resolution. When I taught middle-school kids how to mediate they would often tell me that they wanted to be mediators “to help people.” When I became a colleague to adult mediators a few years later, I was stunned to discover that they were some of the most conflictual people I had ever met in my life. I, like many individuals both inside and outside of the field, had idealized the profession. After all, it seemed a safe assumption that people drawn to assist others in resolving conflict would be caring and inspirational beings. The reality is that people take an interest in conflict resolution for all sorts of reasons and the decision to teach is as varied as the individuals who make it. I would encourage you to stick with your program and graduate, however. You chose it for a reason. Try to remember that reason and hold onto it. Then find others who share it; they will be your true teachers. Perhaps you’ll find that this program helped bring you to them or them to you.

  3. eliesheva says:

    Steve and Laura,

    Thanks for your notes and encouragement… It really does help to hear from others! I definitely don’t want to give up on the larger picture, and I do realize that finishing this degree is the smaller picture. I’ll keep exploring and updating from here.

  4. I echo Laura’s note. People who have trouble with conflict are drawn to the field of conflict resolution because . . . . welll . . . . they have trouble with conflict! The best of us (I’m immodestly including myself in this category) KNOW that we have trouble with conflict and are using our studies (and our time teaching — those of us who are mid-life converts) to USE our trouble with conflict to grow inwardly and to emphatize with our clients outwardly. Professors (like all “grown ups”) are just flawed kids with a lot of years behind them. We age; hopefully we learn; but we don’t necessarily become inspirational people. Someone said — adults can understand young people’s experience because they’ve BEEN young people but the young can’t understand they’re elders because they haven’t yet been OLD. So here’s what I’d do. SEEK OUT MENTORS OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM who inspire you. I guarantee there will be some. I do’t know where you’re located geographically or I’d recommend some people to seek out. As it is, I can only recommend that you “meet” the people who inspire me in the field. Ken Cloke, who wrote Mediating Dangerously, which I’d take to a secret comfortable corner somewhere and read as if my life depended on it. Joe Folger who wrote The Promise of Mediation. Scott Appleby who wrote The Ambivalence of the Sacred (to realize how much WE NEED YOU TO SEE THIS THROUGH because the future of human life on the planet needs you). Read Geoff Sharp’s blog because he’ll make you laugh while inspiring you to be the best you can be. ( Then do what Woody Allen did at the end of one of his better Manhattan movies (Manhattan? Hannah and Her Sisters?) Go see a Marx Brothers movie. Or something else that makes you laugh. If that doesn’t work, go serve soup at a soup kitchen; play checkers with someone REALLY OLD in an assisted living facility. Take a fatherless kid to the zoo. Find a park bench to sit on in the sun and watch the wild human parade pass by. Flirt with a pretty girl. Tell someone dear to you that you love them. Read David Sedaris. Listen to This American Life on PRI (stream it on your computer). Acquaint yourself with wonder again. Find a way to make a fool of yourself in public. Laugh at how foolish we all are. Read any Billy Collins poem anytime anywhere. Be nice to yourself. Forgive yourself whatever your present difficulties are. Count up your reasons to be happy. List everythng that’s good about you. Ride a bike. Take a swim. Move in the direction of love.

  5. mediationvblog says:

    Hey Eliesheva, you’ll do fine


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