Epiphany – My PhD Journey

Well Trainwrecks, it finally happened. I am reaching another milestone of what all of this is supposed to mean. I’m not sure whether it was a classroom assignment I participated in about building self-efficacy and the theories of self-regulation or it was my recent participation in a Doctoral Peer mentoring group session that banged something in my head back into place but it happened. My Psychiatrist told me the more I take on, the more I will become capable of and that is starting to make sense. I could sit here and talk about how the excitation of neural pathways are all playing a part but in all honesty, that is not what this Blog is about. I feel like I am finally back on track (the title of the second book I have begun to write with each new blog post) and things are materializing into their proper order.

Chief, one of my closest mentors and a friend I’ve had since before I left the service told me something I wrote down the last time we met for lunch. As I stared at his tall stack of sharply creased stripes, he told me I needed to “assume my role.” Almost a year later when I attended my first PhD academic residency in Atlanta, Georgia I was told this once again by one of my Doctoral advisors during a private counseling session. “Dominick, you gotta assume your role and the other things will start to fall into place again.” I smiled at Dr. Ethel Perry and stared at the streaks of maroon hair dye in her hair. In the short time I got to know her I wanted to be around her more and more. I felt like I could trust this woman and yet I barely knew her. She had such an incredible sense of humor and I couldn’t help but smile at her. I didn’t understand what she meant by “assuming my role.” Residency one taught me that when we are willing to hear it, the right information becomes available whether we are ready to interpret it or not. At my first academic residency in Atlanta, Georgia I met several people who inspired emotions in me that have lie dormant for a long time. I fought through my fits of anxiety and my desire to hide from everyone. In Atlanta, I was able to convince myself these people don’t know the things that I’ve done.

Beautiful Trainwreck sunset

When I started this Blog, I had absolutely no idea what to even do with it. I tried putting a few things I cooked on it, thought maybe I would write about smoking meat and barbecuing since that is one of my regular interests and something I’ve been doing for years. I thought maybe I would focus on my coaching and build a new direction through that, but even coaching is sporadic these days. While I do continue to provide services and am thankful for my few clients I realize that is only a small part of what it actually is I am trying to do here. My PhD is in Psychology and that needs to be my primary focus. I realize now that the past year I have been building this website around “my PhD journey” and I didn’t know it. Heck I made that topic in my blog as an afterthought and a random place to park my school related stuff I was excited about.

I remember thinking no one would be remotely interested in the fact I was considering going back to school and now it drives most of my traffic. The fact that I am 40, unemployed and a college student. LOL! Even crazier is I get the feeling that was what this website was all along since day one, even though I didn’t know it.

Beautiful Trainwreck bridge

Both Chief and Dr. Perry were right. When I assumed my role, the information became available to me.

When I joined the military, I had one specific goal in mind. I was going to get my education and that degree was somehow going to make all my dreams come true. Well, here I am. I somehow made it through my military career without getting myself killed and the Veteran’s Administration says I get to earn a Ph.D. now because they think I might do something with it. SWEET!

After I got my Master’s degree while Active Duty a decade ago, I thought everything I was looking for would just pop up out of nowhere and answers for where I was supposed to go, and what I was supposed to do would suddenly materialize. The military told me where to be and when to be there, and what I had to do before I got to have what I want. Don’t get me wrong it was a great life but no one ever told me after following someone else’s idea of what I was supposed to do, one day I would have to develop my own. I should have been developing one all along and I know I had unrealistic expectations of myself and my military career at the time – I realize that now. I realize a lot of things. I guess this is just me picking up where I left off.

What can I say, I kinda got lost in a war along the way. It was fun while it lasted.

Beautiful Trainwreck Dom Bucca

I realize now this website is primarily about my PhD Journey. Sure, I’m still focusing on the book I’m writing and school. Trust me, promoting this book is one of the most important things I can do in my life which is why I’m doing it long before it even hits an editor’s hands. Like I’ve mentioned previously, it is all starting to work together. When I review my stats on my website and my Youtube channel, I realized the majority of traffic I receive is from other students and often from other countries. I’ve been regularly sharing many of my Blog posts with undergrad groups and even my mentor group and I have come to realize the impact the blog is having in that direction as well. I used to be so terrified the stuff I was putting together and trying to share with others would never have value and I have learned that is the exact opposite. The other night I was participating in a Doctoral Peer mentoring group and several of my peers told me they enjoy my content. I’ve found a target audience! I think I found a niche! Man, I hope I have. If not, well I’m onto the next step right?

While my blog appeals to a variety of people (veterans, students psychologists) I’ve been continually asking myself “why is this website even here? What am I trying to do?” The answer I think, is to share my PhD Journey with other students as well as the world. I get the feeling my Blog can help bring some insight into the world of Psychology for many people and especially for my fellow students. I also think this blog is my opportunity to be as authentic as I can be about who it is I am and who I develop into as I slowly apply myself back into the working world. The website has it’s own meaning.

Beautiful Trainwreck wartrain

Beautiful-Trainwreck.com is a blog site about a poor and broken kid from Delaware. A kid with extremely low self-esteem who got tired of feeling like a loser and did something about it and eventually became a retired military veteran. Beautiful-Trainwreck is about a drug-addicted military veteran who fought and won his war at home, which then led him to assume his role as a PhD student. Beautiful-Trainwreck is about a young man who has always wanted to be a part of something yet somehow finds trouble and adventure everywhere he goes. Beautiful-Trainwreck is about me and my journey so far.

Because I have been able to assemble these things from my life into a semi-written format, I’m going to try even harder to see this written form make it into a published form. When I left Newark, Delaware in 1998 I never in a million years thought I would be where I am right now, sitting at this desk thirty minutes from Saint Louis.

So, what comes next? Well, I don’t know what exactly. I never really knew that answer before now, but I certainly do know I intend to move this Blog into a more defined direction. That means more work with and opportunity with my peers and fellow students. That means making the blog more personal, more regular and offering more than it already does. So yeah, my latest development is that I intend to focus more of my blog on my PhD journey since that seems to be the topic of greatest interest and ultimately aligns with the direction I’m going.

You are all watching me finally get my shit back together after retirement.

Beautiful Trainwreck Walden Nametag

This brings with it some realizations. For one, I really need to connect with other Blog writers and integrate some best practices. I think getting some professional assistance and direction will help tremendously with what I am trying to do. I’d like my live feeds to be a more regular thing and I want to see how I can try to incorporate some of my work into my Peer mentoring group. I know, high aspirations, right? I can’t exactly explain it, I just feel like everything I am trying right now is leading to something even greater than I ever thought possible.

To be fair, I once lived in my car. Now I have a generous opportunity to continue pursuing my dreams with nothing standing in my way except for me.

This Sunday, on 10 May 2020 one of my classmates I met in Atlanta, Rebekah Bundesen and I will be hosting a LIVE feed. She is a fellow PhD student and a really cool chick I had a lot of fun talking to and hanging out with. It’s only my second time going LIVE and I have no idea what I am doing but I think I will figure it out.

Rebekah Bundesen

When I began working with Youtube as a platform, I only knew how to look up gun videos and salad fingers. I made a few motorcycle videos and played around with some video software a few times but I never really took it serious. Years later I’ve learned it’s not as simple as slapping a video onto a website. I’ve learned there are many things in this world I don’t know and need to realize I don’t know.

I was told between video #50 and video #100 that things would begin to “click” and you know what? They really are! I’m actually starting to get the hang of this Youtube and Facebook thing and understand how to properly use them to share and promote my Blog and my content. I am on like, video #58 or so I have now made without giving an F and I think it’s finally starting to make sense. I’m receiving guidance and it does help, but I am learning the most by doing. To be honest, I have no idea what that actually means. I’m trying so hard to make all of the weird shit that happened in my life mean something. It’s finally happening. Finally

You’re Welcome. Internet.

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