Second Thoughts: An Update

Let me take you back three years to the summer of 2016: it was a few weeks before I was set to start graduate school, I was sitting on a tropical beach and my heart sank deep into my chest as fought the grim realization that I was slowly losing my eyesight.

I had an active bleed behind my retina.

A growing blackspot began to consume my world and a fog of worries swept into my stream of thinking; I was anxious, I was uncomfortable and I was scared. Throughout the following weeks, I had second thoughts about going to graduate school, however, I chose to go for it anyway. I won’t get into the details, but if you’d like, you can read all about it here.

It’s now almost three years later and this blog is about why choosing to pursue graduate school despite the uncertainty that surround my eyesight was the best decision I’ve ever made. The blog will highlight all of the great things that came out of school and it will be organized into several short and easy-to-read paragraphs [with lots of pictures of course].

I appreciate you taking the time to read and before we moved forward, I want to highlight the role that faith has played in guiding me through graduate school; without faith, I wouldn’t be where I am today and that would stink. Before I lose you to a long introduction, let’s jump in.

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Instagram

It was during the first year of school that I was compelled to grow my instagram account. It began with exercise videos and, over time, it morphed into an account aimed at inspiration, growth and encouragement. The time and effort that I put into Instagram helped me grow, helped me find clarity and helped me connect with some of the coolest healthcare providers and human beings I know. The best part of my social media experience [and the reason that I will continue to put effort into it] has been the opportunity to reach, inspire and help more people that I ever could have imagined.

This Blog

Along the same lines as Instagram, it was the vulnerability that I felt on a daily basis leading up to graduate school that inspired me to start this blog. I put myself out there and the support and encouragement that I received in return was overwhelming to say the least. Over the past two years, this blog has been visited in excess of 39,000 times by over 23,000 people in more than 80 countries. I am beyond grateful for all of the support that I received, all of the lives I could touch and all that I’ve been able to learn about myself in the process. I look forward to the continue growth of this blog and the continued opportunity to positively impact people who read.

Motivational Video

Ever since the beginning of high school, I was drawn to various “motivational” videos: there was something about them that spoke to me. I had always had a desire to create one of my own and in the summer of 2018, I had that opportunity. With the help of my friend and very talented cinematographer, Danny Gevirtz, I was able to produce a video of my own (which you can watch here) that received over 25,000 views on Facebook. This is something that I would love to do again, so keep an eye out!

Guatemala

In the third year of graduate school, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Guatemala on a service trip. We provided physical therapy to Guatemalans who otherwise did not have access to healthcare. This was my first time on a service trip and it couldn’t have been better. I was able to help people in need, I gained a new perspective on life and I grew close to the group of students and faculty who accompanied me on the trip. The lessons I learned are too numerous to cram into a paragraph, so if you’d like to read more about the trip and my experience, you can read about it here.

Friends

If I hadn’t gone to school, I wouldn’t have been apart of the Drexel DPT class of 2019 and that means I wouldn’t have met my 53 incredible classmates. I spent endless hours with these people (in class, in lab, in the library, at the bar, etc.) and in less than three short years, this group went from being complete strangers to family. I will forever be grateful for this group and I am excited to see where their careers take them and all the good they do.

Education

I was able to learn from and get to know some of the best faculty and best clinicians that I could imagine. I look back at my time at Drexeland I feel like a different person than when I started. I feel well equipped to be a competent new graduate in the field of physical therapy, and I feel prepared to do so with compassion, empathy, confidence, and a heart full of love.

Philadelphia

I’ve never lived in a city and, to be honest, I never wanted to. However, it just so happened that I ended up living in Center City Philadelphia with two {and then three} of the best roommates a guy could ask for. I remember going to visit my soon to be apartment and my mom crying because she didn’t want me to live there [it wasn’t exactly the nicest place you’ve ever seen]. However, before I knew it, I fell in love with Philadelphia and it is now a place that I want to be in again. It slowly became a place that would hold a special place in my heart, because it is here that I met and got to know the person who holds the most special place in my heart…

Love

It’s hard to believe that I first saw her back in 2015 at an interview for another school, that we both ended up at Drexel and that she became my best friend. There is no doubt that God guided me to Philadelphia [in part] to find her. We grew close during our time at Drexel and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t found her. Just a few weeks ago, I asked the question that had been on my mind since our first date. I got down on one knee and asked my best friend, the girl of my dreams and the love of my life to spend the rest of her life with me [she said yes].

Michaela. I wake up each day with a smile on my face because of you and you make me better in every way. I want you to know that I will always give you my best effort and I love you more than words can express.

Faith

This is something I don’t talk a whole lot about, not because it’s not important to me, but because I don’t know how. It seems like religion can be a sensitive topic and I’m not here to offend anyone, but I do feel like I need to share this part of my story. I came into school looking for a God who I knew in my heart existed but I didn’t know how to find. I chose to pursue school [in part] because I felt that God made my path clear. I felt compelled to be closer to Him, but I had no blueprint for how to go about getting there. It’s interesting how things work out, but just as I felt like I should stop looking for Him, I began to spend time with Michaela. She introduced me to the church that changed things for me and by no accident, I found the faith I had been looking for. The faith that I found has shaped me and the perspective that I have in everything that I do. If you’d like to hear more about this part of my life, please feel free to contact me [contact page] and I’d love to talk about it.

Graduation Speech

At the beginning of 2019 I sat down at my laptop and wrote out my goals for the year, one of which was to deliver a graduation speech. When I wrote this, I was under the impression that it would be for a graduation at my alma mater [Westfield High School], but I never heard back about that opportunity. It’s funny how things work out, but just a few weeks before my graduation from Drexel, I presented with the opportunity to speak at my own graduation in front of classmates, professors, family and friends. I couldn’t pass it up and I gave it everything I had. I spent hours and hours practicing my ten minute speech (over 50 times without exaggeration). I delivered my speech and in the moment, everything just clicked. The message was from my heart and the delivery was easy. The room was engaged and when I was done speaking, I watched as everyone stood up and clapped for me. That was a feeling that I’ll never forget and something that I want again. I want that not because of what I was able to get out of it, but because of what I was able to give.

If anyone reading has connections at TedX shoot me a message.

Profession

While I don’t want my title to define me, without graduate school, I wouldn’t have my Doctorate of Physical Therapy [please don’t call me doctor]. Regardless of the degree that I earned or the career that I chose; I’m Joe Rinaldi the person and I want to leave this world better than I found it in everything that I do, not just work, and that will never change. However, without this degree, I wouldn’t have the tremendous opportunity and privilege to treat patients [within the context of the healthcare system] who are trusting me to help them get to where they want to be. I feel called to make a difference in this profession and while I don’t know quite what that difference is just yet, I know that it’ll be made clear in due time. Until then. keep an eye out for some big things to come and check out this incredible organization [The Level Up Initiative] who I am thrilled to be associated with as it makes waves of positive change in the world of healthcare.

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Like my parents had assured me [it’s odd how they’re usually right], the past few years have affirmed that I can’t let the “what if’s” dictate my life. When I look back, I realize that while I came into school with a world of worries, it turns out that none of those worries came to fruition. In fact, I left school better than I started and with some of the best things I could imagine. I couldn’t be more grateful and I would do it all again if I could.

I hope that this short blog made a dent in your mind and encouraged you [even just a little] to take a risk, go for what you want, believe in yourself and have some faith. No matter what the challenge, what the obstacle, or what the set-back – when you give your best effort and do the right thing, there’s nothing that can stop you and nobody that can take anything away from you. Like the first blog I ever wrote, I want to dedicate this one to my parents; thank you for always supporting me, loving me and pushing me.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.

No matter what you’re feeling, just know that the first step is often the hardest. Trust in the process and understand that you have the ability to shape your experience through the adjustable lens of perspective. If you ever need anything at all, please let me know and I’ll do whatever it is I can.

Take that step.

Thank you so much for reading – I’ll be back soon!

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

6 thoughts on “Second Thoughts: An Update

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  1. Loved going on life’s journey with you. I am proud and honored to be your grandmother. Love you.

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