It’s been five years since I first boarded a plane to San Francisco and began a journey into my future. I had been accepted into the first cohort for the newly-launched Ph.D. program in Human Sexuality at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, only the second accredited program in Human Sexuality in the country, and the only one on the west coast.

I had no idea how challenging this journey would be.

Walking in to the gathering of students newly welcomed into the program, I simultaneously was excited for, and fearful of, this dive into an academic world unknown to me, and for which I new I had a deep passion. As I looked around the room, I saw such a diverse group of individuals, arriving from seemingly every corner of the country, representing a fascinating palette of backgrounds and disciplines. I had to fight my internal critic constantly questioning whether I truly deserved to be a part of something so challenging and so unfamiliar to me.

For the next two years, over four semesters, I traveled three times each semester to the CIIS campus near the San Francisco City Hall to take courses on topics from disciplines I had only had some exposure of in my high school and undergraduate education. Because I chose to focus on business education in my graduate experience, I feared greatly that my hopping into a field that required interdisciplinary studies was a grave mistake. I gave up much of my free time was I began the program, diving into learning about the multiple dimensions of the human sexual experience, including identity and orientation, expression, and history.

The journey has not been easy. More than once I not only doubted myself, but I struggled greatly with the stress and the frustration that comes with personal growth and expansion. The experience eventually led me to doubt myself repeatedly and consider ending my journey. Compared to the mental health challenges I faced in these most recent years, my bouts with stress, depression, and anxiety prior to entering the program were a walk in the park.

But finally – yes finally – I am at the cusp of entering the last, and perhaps the most fulfilling, phase of the journey in the program. Following approval from the school’s institutional review board that approves of research projects involving human subjects, I will dive into researching a phenomenon that has been largely responsible for my own healing and transformation — the realm of sacred intimacy.

If all goes well, I will have approval to begin research in June or July. I look forward to completing and delivering my own contribution to the realm of human sexuality.

Stay tuned!