Ten Years Later

Almost ten years ago, I opened an envelope in the mail from my top choice undergraduate college: I got in! I remember feeling almost euphoric, pacing around the basement of my childhood home. On an academic level, I yearned to dive deep into English and Psychology, subjects I felt an affinity for in high school. More personally, I couldn’t wait to escape my abusive mother – I had studied and planned for years to get away from her, and now I could see the end of our relationship in sight.

In terms of academics, my idealized vision of college pretty much came true. I faced some challenges in that realm, though for the most part I flourished without challenge: I took cool classes, worked two-part time jobs where I met my current bffs, and did a bunch of meaningful research and extracurriculars. On a personal level, though, a ton of unexpected shit happened during my first two years – a dramatic roommate breakup that triggered past trauma, wild conflict with my high school friend group, and the burgeoning of my PTSD. I cried in bathroom stalls and wrote sometimes-hyperbolic and angsty blog posts and Facebook statuses. I was a whole mess!

The people at my undergrad made such a difference though. Of course, I met my therapist L, who sat with me as I processed the terrors of my childhood and how those terrors played out in our own therapeutic relationship. I also encountered professors who checked in on me and supported me. Even though I didn’t tell any of these professors about my specific mental health issues, the baseline kindness they showed me helped so much: an interest in me as a three-dimensional person, a warm and non-passive-aggressive direct communication style, and a consistency and availability that felt safe. All of these interpersonal attributes aided in my recovery from PTSD. While I faced my past in the therapy room, I still lived my present outside of it, and the people who cared contributed to my healing.

All of this is to say, earlier this week I accepted an offer to join a college in the Philadelphia area as a tenure track professor of Psychology! The process honestly felt kinda horrible, like the nonstop virtual screening interviews, flying to in-person interviews, and still fulfilling residency responsibilities on top of all of that – you can see why I wasn’t blogging for the past month and a half. However, now that the process has wrapped up, I feel excited to teach classes, mentor students on research about mental health and social justice, and provide therapy in that area once I move mid-summer 2023.

On a deeper level, I’m reminding myself that it’s not the title of professor, the publications, or the awards that matter. I’ll do my best to be kind, consistent, and self-reflective. To be unabashedly myself as a queer Asian American. I have so many people to thank, like my grandmother, the feminist writers who’ve inspired me, the mentors in my professional life, my friends, and my online community. I feel grateful for the opportunity to pass the compassion they’ve given me forward.

A picture of flying above the clouds from Boston to Philly! So glad I won’t have to step foot onto an airplane for several more weeks until I visit one of my bffs -_-
Some fancy mac n cheese I ordered through room service that the college paid for! Featuring the iPod Touch I got in middle school that I literally only use as my alarm every morning.

Where were you ten years ago and how have you changed or not? General reactions to this post? Whew I’m so glad to be back blogging and investing in other areas of my life outside of the job search thank GOODNESS. I already have my next post pretty much written and will most likely publish it in a week or so. And NewJeans has a new song coming out in two days yayyyy (I’m still obsessed with “Hype Boy.”) Would love to hear how folks have been and until next post!


Filed under Personal

12 responses to “Ten Years Later

  1. Rachel Cho

    Hi Thomas!

    This is my first comment on your blog but I’ve been a consistent reader this last fall and winter and wanted to say: congratulations with all my heart.

    It’s inspiring to read these blog posts as a lesbian asian american whose heading towards the psych field. It’s nice to see that you exist out there as someone who feels a little lonely in my identity as a gaysian (and a psych, book, kpop, and blogging nerd too, at that). Yeah, just wanted to say hi and I’m happy for you and hope you eat lots of delicious food. And I’ve been listening to Le Sserafim’s Impurities on repeat since it came out.

    • This is the sweetest, thank you so much for sharing Rachel! This means a lot to me as someone who’s felt a similar sense of loneliness as a gaysian. Yay for books and kpop and please let me know if I can answer any questions about going into psychology, I’ll do my best to answer. Even though Impurities isn’t fast-paced enough for me to listen to it on repeat I respect that choice!! (: Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  2. Ohhh I keep meaning to say I listened to a BlackPink song the other day (it presented itself in my free Amazon Music “new for you” playlist amongst the stuff in Spanish it’s not wrong about me liking but it’s a bit weird) and really liked it.

    Anyway, I’m so so chuffed you got your position and you can relax about that now and concentrate on finishing this year off. And I’m so proud to have watched your journey and seen you blossom.

    Ten years ago I was 40 and had done my first year of being full-time self-employed, a year full of work and so much calmer and more happy than my day job / self-employment life of the previous two years.

    • Omg yessssss glad you listened to a BlackPink song and enjoyed it even if the circumstances that presented the song to you were a bit odd. Please let me know if you recall which song it was!

      Thank you for being chuffed on my behalf. (: Your support has been instrumental to my success! I appreciate you sharing where you were ten years ago and how it sounds like a positive evolution has occurred in relation to your job situation.

  3. A big congratulations and hugs to you! I love that you thank and recognize the people who have played a role in your success. I have a feeling your grandmother has a big smile on her face now and doing fist pumps. You worked so hard for this and gone through a lot of hardships. I’m happy for you and know you’ll continue to inspire others.

    • Thank you so much Matt! You and my other readers/commenters are definitely included in the list of people who’ve played a role in my success. Yay for the shoutout to my grandmother and yes, I’ll keep doing my best to live in a values-aligned way and spread compassion and empowerment, both to myself and others.

  4. Kartavya Ratate

    Congratulations, Thomas! I am confident that you will carry your values and skills in your role as a professor, and I am also excited to see how you continue growing both inside and outside of your professional role. All the best! And take care. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting and for emphasizing the role of values, as well as life both within and outside of the professional role. (: Much appreciated and hope you are doing well!

  5. Manaal

    Thomas congratulations!!! 🎉 I’m so happy for you!!
    Even though I don’t comment here very regularly, I think about you often and find the way you take active, intentional steps to embody your values so inspiring and hopeful.
    Always sending you lots of love and compassion 💕

    • Awww thank you so much Manaal for this compassionate comment! Yes, we love taking active and intentional steps to embody our values. Appreciate you taking the time to drop by and it means a lot to know you’re thinking of me. (:

  6. Tandra Paul

    I discovered your Goodreads profile and sent request and I’m glad you accepted it . I was going through your reading shelves and ended up here . I don’t know but everytime I read your Reviews on books , and somehow I relate with a lot of things you write about and today when I read your blogposts I’ve realized that there’s something in your writing style that hook me up . It’s passionate and shows what values and principles you hold in your life . I would love to have a person like you as my friend . and oh! congratulations on your new Journey , I hope you will have a nice journey ahead.
    Love from India♥♥

    • Awwww this comment is so sweet and heartwarming! Thank you for reading some of my Goodreads reviews and my blog, that means a lot to me. I do my best to convey my values and principles and to abide by them relentlessly. I will do my best to make the journey fabulous for me and others and I hope your day and week are going as well as possible. (: Would love to hear from you again if you want to ever stop by!

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