Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Here Goes Nothing...
Hello there, and welcome to what I'm sure will be the most personal post I think I may ever write. Go ahead, take a seat, stay awhile.
As you know, I'm in a bit of a dilemma at the moment. I'm torn between a career I've been going to school for and taking a leap of faith to pursue a few careers I've always been interested in, but have never had the balls to go for them.
I'm 6 credits and another internship away from finishing my Master's in Counseling. I've decided to take the remaining 6 credits this fall, and postpone the internship. That way I'm finished with all my coursework (which qualifies me for counselor positions) and any counseling job I decide to apply for in the future counts as the internship. That's the logical part.
Now for the crazy part...
I spent all day yesterday really putting some thought into what I want to do for a living, and why I chose to pursue counseling in the first place. It wasn't until a text conversation with a friend (who would be a fantastic counselor, btw) really put everything into perspective. "When was the first time you were really jealous of what someone else was doing for a living?"
What a great question! Jealousy is one of the most primal of emotions as well as one of the most powerful. If you're jealous of something, there's usually a very basic want or need that is not being fulfilled in your life. And why a person is jealous, can say loads about them.
Think about it, what are you jealous of? Are you jealous of your friend who is happily married and pregnant? I doubt it's because you're in love with her husband or think her growing belly looks sexy, it's more likely because you want to start a family of your own. What about your friend who has a new car and big house? Are you really jealous of all their toys, or the stability and freedom their income provides? The reason for a person's jealousy hits the core of what that person wants out of life.
So I thought about it. Career wise, when was the first time I was ever jealous of someone's career, and why? It took me under 4 seconds. When I was younger (I must have been 16?) I saw the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie. As a promotion for the movie, there was a bit on TV about how they filmed the action scenes. There was one in particular, where Ms. Jolie was swinging from the ceiling on a serious of ribbon-like ropes. In that second I thought to myself, "I want to do that."
Do what? Fly from ceilings and fight bad guys? No, not quite. Although that would also be a terrific experience, I'm not even sure how to make a resume for that sort of thing. No, no, no, I wanted to act.
I wanted to be a part of a story that moved people. I wanted the responsibility of having to learn something different for every job, to throw myself into a character other than me. I wanted the opportunity to be in different situations with different needs and different people. Something that was always changing. Something that revolved a story, whether real or not. I don't care about the long hours, the low income or the lack of stability. Hell the lack of stability is kind of a draw actually.
Did I join the drama team in high school? No. I was an athlete, and for me a sports scholarship was the only way out of my family situation. I put all my time and effort into softball, just trying to find a way out of that town. Drama, speech and debate, band, all of it was pushed to the side. And it stayed there.
And here's the kicker. Once you create an identify for yourself (whether it's accurate or not), changing that identity becomes quite taxing. Your entire social circle is based on how you portray yourself. For example, in high school I wore sweats and no makeup. When I went to college my freshman year I was the same way. I didn't even know how to wear makeup, much less heels or a dress. People knew me as the "tomboy". All of my friends were tomboys. That was my identity.
But then I started wearing dresses and heels. Not because I was pressured by other people, but because I had always wanted to, I just didn't know how. And it was embarrassing at first. I didn't know how to walk in heels, it felt awkward to wear makeup, and I thought people were judging me in dresses. But secretly I loved it. It was the first time I felt could express who I was by what I wore. I loved how all of a sudden I became a woman instead of a guy with boobs. I had a sense of style. Sure I still love my sweats and still wear no makeup the vast majority of the time (I'm still the same girl), but I now I have another component of my identity. And I love it.
It's the same problem with my career. The real reason I went into counseling? Honestly? Because I was comfortable with it. I was comfortable with people telling me horrific stories of their childhood because I had been there myself. I had empathy for them. I worked at a psych hospital because it's what I was comfortable with. I've been dealing with irrational and violent people my entire life; getting paid for it just seemed like second nature.
So what am I getting at? This: I feel I'm in a career that I started because I was comfortable in it. It came naturally to me, so I kept along that path. I asked myself this, what dream counselor position am I jealous of?
None. A nutritional counselor would be pretty cool, but it's not what I want to do. It's what I feel I'd be good at. What about a forensic psychologist? Sure that would be interesting and challenging, but it's not what I want to do. As you can see by this recent post, even before I started having troubles in my job I knew I had made the wrong decision. I mean who writes that when they've supposedly finally reached their career goals?
I think my hobbies and my career interests were switched a long time ago. I wanted to major in music or art, but was told those were hobbies. I was interested in psychology and nutrition, and was told those were "career options." I was 18, listening to people "who knew best". So I did what I thought I was supposed to do.
Well folks I'm not 18 anymore. I'm 26, and I'm done making excuses. I'm taking an acting class this fall (along with my 6 credits) just to see if I like it. Maybe I'll hate it, and then I can cross that off my list. But maybe I'll love it...and then who know? Don't worry, I'm not filling my head with anything, I just want to make sure I cover all my bases before I lock myself into anything.
I'm excited. And by excited I mean terrified...but also excited.
Have you ever taken a leap of faith? How did it turn out?