I’ve made so many decisions since I moved back the South. Where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I wanted to go, etc. In addition to starting a new job, I’ve also been tasked with keeping up with another job I have and simultaneously getting another two jobs off the ground and running. The thought of totally working for myself has always scared me to an extent. As an unmarried single person, there isn’t even the “safety net” of a spouse who could hold me down while I got something off the ground. I remember reading a quote that said entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down. The thing about building a location based business is that you have to be willing to put down some roots in order to build up some clientele and network. It isn’t something that happens overnight and it takes some deliberate effort. But maybe it’s time to do something different and consider settling down for a change. While I love the idea of some stability, I also hate the feeling of being stuck without a good reason. And if I have to settle down I want it to be close to a beach where I can see and swim with some dolphins. But the truth is that if I’m taking the fairly big step of renting an office, then I need to do something that actually justifies the monthly fee that I’m paying. Logistically, having even two private clients a month would pay for the office itself. Two people out of a city of several million doesn’t sound too bad. It just means that I need to be strategic and market appropriately. Maybe it’s time to step out and do something different. I don’t love the idea of working for other people for the rest of my life.
It’s funny how life goes sometimes. You prepare the best you can and then you have to make the best of what happens. Two years ago at this time I was having the time of my life in Paris and going on road trips to the countryside. This year is drastically different as I’ll be going into the office and working with clients. But to be fair, I was in Paris earlier this year so I can’t complain. The field of social work is so varied and throughout my career so far I have found myself in a lot of different settings playing multiple roles. My recent venture has me once again diving into the world of being a therapist. It’s a role that I haven’t been in consistently for a while, but one that I went to school for when the medical school plan didn’t work out. Contrary to popular belief, it’s so much more than just listening to people. Working at an outpatient clinic and working with the general public pretty much means that I deal with a little bit of everything. I don’t have a specialty or a specific diagnosis that I primarily work with. Every client requires a different skill set and theoretical framework. It really makes me grateful that I had an amazing post-graduate education that is actually paying off. A lot of clients just want to know that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s a change in pace from running around constantly in a hospital and doing a lot of case management. So far so good I guess. We’ll see what the rest of this year brings.
I feel like I haven’t blogged in a while and it’s actually true. Another cross-country move, getting settled in, and starting another job. As someone who has gone through multiple transitions this year, the thought of being settled–even for a little bit, definitely has some appeal. I can’t believe that the year is more than halfway over and I find myself asking what’s been accomplished. I’ve been so future focused but I also want to be more intentional about living in the moment. The year began pretty low-key but has been going almost nonstop. But I have to say that I’m glad to have made it this far. I’ve always been one to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and there may be some of those on the horizon. I decided to take a break from dating since I’ll be working as a therapist again and I don’t want to compete with my clients on the “men ain’t shit” stories. Needless to say, it might be nice to start considering settling down. Living out of a suitcase for the past 10 months definitely has it’s downsides. I’m going to make more of an effort to write consistently in the next few months. Hold me to it.
There’s something about the month of May that makes me reconsider my entire life. It’s like an internal check-in to evaluate how the year has gone up to this point. It’s also my half-birthday month–which is another reminder that I only have 6 months to go until I’m a year older. Last year around this time I was living in Atlanta and working in a job I didn’t really love. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and I’m happy to say that I’ve had the chance to travel a bit more because that was one of the things I resolved to do last May. Since then I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Spain, England, France, Italy, Monaco, and Malta. In addition to that I quit my job and moved across the country to California. It’s been eventful to say the least but I’ve learned a lot and have also acquired a new skill set. Working in a busy hospital and coordinating care will definitely have you learning a lot of new medical terminology that you didn’t learn in graduate school. I also decided to try my hand at teaching and am now facilitating a class of 16 graduate students in a weekly online class. It’s been challenging but fun so far. A lot of decisions were made last May and we’ll see what happens this year.
One thing that has been nice about relocating across the country and starting something new is that I’ve had the chance to do more work in direct practice. A lot of this year was spent being a desk in my cubicle and while my work had an impact on a lot of people, I wasn’t working directly with clients. One thing that I’ve had a chance to see up close is the fragility of life and how quickly things can change–especially working in a hospital. Instead of being in the background I’m on the front lines answering questions, de-escalating situations, talking to concerned family members, and a list of other things that don’t full under the “medical” category. Each day is unpredictable and there are multiple interruptions and interventions that have to be made in addition to all the daily duties. There are multiple impromptu therapy sessions where I process varying emotions with clients that almost always consist of frustration, anger, and helplessness in some regard. There are constant adjustments to make and people to call or talk to in order to coordinate resources. But it’s made me more grateful for the things that are typically taken for granted, like the use of my limbs or the ability to move around without an assistive device. All that being said, carrying the emotional weight of people who are going through major life changes and have to adjust to a new way of living along with their families can be draining (to say the least). It’s definitely made me become more aware of the need for all social workers (including myself) to do something for self-care. I’ve had to pull some things out of my own toolbox to ensure that I’m able to be emotionally present for my clients. In a profession where burnout happens frequently, it’s imperative to take care of yourself so that you can competently and compassionately take care of others. You owe it to you.
I feel that I’m due for another post and while I have been consistent with writing in the past, sometimes it’s almost impossibly hard to translate my chaotic thoughts into something coherent. But I’m going to try. I’ve come to the realization that most people live with a set of “ifs” or “what ifs.” It’s that feeling where you just KNOW that things would be different IF distance wasn’t a factor, IF money wasn’t an issue, IF you had made a better decision. The list goes on and on. Sometimes that “if” is a person. I’ve seen the look of regret on the faces of many older adults as they’ve lamented on losing their first love or a painful goodbye that they never fully got over. I say all that to say that sometimes you have to know exactly what you want—even if it’s a big thing, and work backwards. You can eliminate a few “ifs” IF you are willing to make huge decisions that are uncomfortable in the present but lay the foundation for a better future.
So today I started a new job. Not a hustle or on a “as needed” basis, but a real job. It’s something that I’ve (halfway) actively pursuing since early last year. While I’m excited about new opportunities, I’m also hesitant. I love flexibility but it’s time to have something resembling security with health insurance and a 401K. I’ve met so many people who settle for a “regular” job, they put in their hours, go home, raise a family, take a vacation once a year, retire, and die. Not a bad plan, but definitely not for me. This job is not where I want to be for the rest of my life. It’s a means to an end. And if I have to sacrifice by waking up early EVERY morning in order to get stuff done and to meet my goals, so be it. I’m not a morning person but I’ll be one because what I want to be as a professional is bigger than pushing the snooze button on my alarm clock. There’s a saying that says one has to be willing to do what others won’t do in order to get what others won’t get. In my case, getting a regular job is doing what others are doing. However, my special twist is that I’m also pairing it with three additional jobs and an increasingly challenging doctoral program. With the end goal of being in a very very good professional place by the time I’m 25. The biggest challenge will definitely be balance and making sure that I don’t get in my own way. I’ve made some hard choices and there are plenty more to come. But, as I tell my clients, settling feels good for the moment but you never get any lasting results. Being deliberate and planning takes time, effort, and sacrifice but it sure beats waking up one morning and realizing that you’ve wasted your life. At least in my opinion.