So many people in my life have inspired me with their ability to be kind. Tristine Rainer was write when he said that writing about these people help me to internalize and possess the very qualities that intrigued me the most. I have been doing this for a while and realized as I sat down today that I have internalized some of the qualities of someone who showed me intense kindness when I was in graduate school.
Her name is Dr Diane M Samdahl and she is one of those people who has left her name inscribed on my heart. She taught me so much about life, not just recreation and leisure studies. When I look back on my relationship and journey with her, there is one moment in particular that I will remember forever.
While I was working on my doctoral studies I was struggling with competence in my own intelligence. Diane never doubted my abilities, but I did. She stood up for me during my written examinations when someone asked me a question that was not quite fair. She kept me from quitting and giving up when I was exhausted after having written answers to questions for 72 hours straight. However, it was the day of my oral examinations and the days immediately following that I remember the most. I was so nervous as I always am before speaking to more than two people. As I walked in the door to orally answers from my committee, I had this feeling as if there was a container that said “Empty Brains Here!” and I did. From that point on, it was like I was on the Titanic while it was sinking. I could not answer the easiest of questions; questions which I otherwise would be discussing ad nauseum.
After I was told I could step off this sinking ship, I stepped out into the waiting area and sat and cried my heart out, realizing I had just ruined my chances of moving forward, feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and heartbroken. Then the door opened and Diane invited me back in and the committee of Angels told me that they were not quite sure what happened, but between now and the defense of my dissertation I needed to fix it, which I did. They said they could not see any benefit in making me redo my orals, as they had heard me answer these questions way too many times, so they collectively were kinder to me then I ever could have been to myself.
In the days after, Diane, knowing how I felt, showed kindness again as she gently encouraged me to go and sit with each of my committee members so I was not trapped in my embarrassment. She helped me move through this feeling of the single worst thing that could ever happen to me. She showed me so much kindness and grace as she helped me find my voice and own my intelligence.
Since then I have met numerous other young women who have been in the same space that I was and I would always remember the loving and kind way she helped and guided me. I have come to this place in my journey now where practicing that level of kindness is easy, but I know it is one of the qualities I inherited from my mentor and friend, Dr. Diane M. Samdajl.