So once again I’m on another trip. This time it’s to a place that is incredibly warm with humidity and bugs. To the point that one crawled in my food the other day and I didn’t freak out. The humidity here is so nice and I’ve gotten back into the habit of greeting perfect strangers. There’s something nice about going 90 MPH on the freeway with the windows down and music with a decent beat blasting from the speakers. The sad thing is that while this was a sorta vacation, homework is still due. I will always wonder what possessed me to be in an academic program that has school year round. Regardless, it’s nice to be in a different setting while slaving away writing. One thing that was great this trip was seeing friends and sleeping on the beach. I feel like I don’t really sleep until I get to a beach. I sat in the sun and baked for an extended amount of time and my skin tone is testament to that fact. The thing I hate about coming home is working again but that will probably be a constant thing as long as I continue to finance my own trips. It’s been a good experience and I’ve decided that another weekend trip to Florida is in order for sometime later in the year. Did I mention that it’s summer down here already?
I ran across this intriguing article the other day. The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that the author mentions a group of people called creatives, and while I haven’t heard that term used a lot in relation to a specific category of people, I think it’s similar to people we often call “free-spirits.” You can read the article here. The basic assertion is that creative people hate the traditional 9-5 job and I can definitely relate. While I am an individual who appreciates structure and routine at times, my aversion to feeling confined puts me in the category of people who strongly dislike traditional work hours in traditional settings. The article references the fact that creatives hate to restrict motivation to certain hours during the day. I’ve never been much of a morning person–preferring instead to wake up at my own pace and start my day on my own terms. That’s just not possible in most jobs where you have to be at work between the hours of 7 and 9am Monday through Friday. That’s way too much structure for my taste. I love the idea of taking random breaks during the day to run errands and shop and then return to work. Sounds idealistic I know. Working at my own pace without being micromanaged is also important to me because I think I’m quite capable of getting work accomplished in a reasonable period of time without multiple interruptions from those who have the need to reassure themselves that I am indeed doing my job. It’s funny how much of the work world in the States revolves around this type of schedule. Working 5 days and then only having 2 days off to recuperate. I tried a job with traditional hours and lasted a little bit over three months because it was way too much structure for my tastes. While I don’t think I would categorize myself as a “creative,” after reading the article I can relate to every single one of the annoyances of having a traditional work schedule. I guess that’s why I work nights. For now at least.
I’ve always been somewhat of a night owl. I remember being forced to go to bed in the summer when it was still light outside and reading until I could no longer see the words on the page. Looking back, that’s probably why I started wearing glasses at an early age. In college, sleep became a priority that I held in high importance. Yet, I remember an ENTIRE semester where I went to bed at midnight or later every night with 22 credit hours and two jobs. It wasn’t the best schedule for my health but I stayed relatively healthy without any major mishaps. The silver lining to that semester was that i finished with a 3.9 GPA. I recently transitioned to working nights and it’s been a huge adjustment. When I worked nights before I flip flopped between days and nights and came closer than I wanted to losing my mind with the lack of sleep. My new schedule is still fairly brutal but it provided the escape that I needed from a 9-5 schedule which I really strongly dislike. Through this process I have had a renewed appreciation for sleep. I know that I don’t want to do nights for the rest of my life because I don’t want chronic insomnia. For now, sleep is once again a priority and I’ll have to get creative so that I have enough to function.
Many of us had a subject in school in which the relationship between it and use could be characterized by the word “complicated.” For me, that subject was math. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that anyone is born hating math. I once read an article that asserted that hating math is a result of how we are raised and taught to do it. I remember learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables through memorization and songs. However, for some reason, my dislike for math seemed to deepen. It wasn’t until 11th grade that I realized I had a knack for creating a spreadsheet of a budget and calculating profit margins. This was a bright moment in my dark relationship with math. My experience with math was further complicated by the fact that while I was homeschooled, math was not a strong point with either of my parents. I did my high school education through a correspondence course. That meant that I got a math book and a workbook and I had to teach myself the concepts. This was an extremely hard thing to do as I got into advanced algebra and geometry. Even with the help of tutors it was not easy going. I managed to pass both classes with grades that probably should never be reported. It was a good thing that I managed to escape trigonometry, calculus and other higher level maths that most people have to take. It’s funny how certain things decrease in significance as we get older. I was genuinely stressed out by my algebra homework. Yet, after passing the class (thankfully), other than critical thinking skills, algebra is a thing of the past. I’m not tested on my ability to solve for x or any other operation that requires a lot of steps to solve. That’s why I think it’s so important to not make mountains out of molehills. You acknowledge it, you confront it, and you move on. Chances are the things you worried about ten years ago aren’t even relevant now and you wasted valuable energy that could have become something productive.
Earlier this year I posted about the dilemma of finding a topic for my dissertation. I can honestly say that at the beginning of this thing I had no idea the time and energy that it would entail. Any advanced degree in the social sciences typically involves a lot of writing and this particular one has been no different. Two LOOOOOONG years of classwork have recently ended with the last class being a doctoral level statistics class that I thought I was going to epically fail. However, I passed by the literal skin of my own teeth with a “B.” While I like distance learning, I also like the interactions that come along with being physically present in a traditional classroom. While I’ve been consistent with keeping up with the expectations of my program and turning in my assignments on time, I haven’t taken it seriously. It’s been a time consuming hobby. Not because I don’t take my life and professional goals seriously, but because I picked a fairly broad concentration that combines work I’ve completed in other disciplines. The next hurdle is that of starting, working on, and completing my dissertation. Thankfully I’ve finally arrived at a topic and after 3 months of emails and subsequent rejections have finally finalized a dissertation committee. So now I can categorize myself as ABD (all but dissertation) in the scholarly world. I can add “PhD. Candidate” to my email signature and even apply for jobs in higher ed. An added bonus was the fact that I could take a three month break and still be on track to graduate on time. All that being said, one of the interesting facts I learned this summer was that only 1.9% of people who start a doctorate complete it. That means that 98.1% of people who start one do not finish. That fact is motivation for me to finish what I started and to add another set of initials behind my name. The school thing isn’t finished and won’t be for a bit but with some dedication and consistency combined by my decision to take school seriously at this point in the game I’ll conquer this last mountain.
So many times we think of success as something to be attained instead of something that requires constant movement and action with the anticipated result changing as we go forward. As I get closer to turning a year older, I can help but think about how my definition of success has changed from when I was younger. There are still so many things that I want to do and avenues that I haven’t explored. To me, being successful is having the freedom to do what you want when you want without the confinement of a tradition 9-5 job. The ability to turn down opportunities because you don’t need the money and to travel all over just because you want to. That’s what I want. However it’s important to remember that success requires consistent effort towards sometime specific. You really can’t be halfway successful. You have to be willing to put in the time daily and be disciplined enough to not require constant external motivation.
First off, I want to say that while the title of this blog may bring back memories of the picture of Jay-Z wearing a shirt with these words emblazoned on his chest. This actually something of a sequel to one of my previous posts, Stepping Away. Well, maybe. When I’m wearing my therapist hat I’m always working for the benefit of my client. I am incredibly conscious of my own ideas and biases and i have to mentally put them to the side so that I can be in the moment. There have been hundreds of times where I did not agree with my client’s actions. He or she may have done something that I would have never even dreamed about doing, but it happened. Many times my clients have negative consequences as a result of their actions and they must then pick up the pieces and live with the decision that they made. One thing I said a few posts ago is that sometimes you can only know that you’ve done good work by walking away from it and discovering if it will stand on its own. Recently I had the chance to witness the results of my work and it was a good feeling to see years of work finally coming together after a long period of doubting if the results would ever be what I wanted. While I can say that the results were not everything that I was hoping and dreaming for, they were perfect in their own context. There’s a certain freedom that comes from letting people make their own choices and empower themselves. While you may offer suggestions as to how do to it, the final decision is theirs. You don’t take responsibility for their actions and you don’t judge or criticize their choices. One thing that I’ve learned as a therapist is that you have to respect the choices of others. While one can manipulate and strategize all day, there is nothing like a definite decision your client makes that you know will help them to have a better quality of life. The flip side is that you have to also allow them to make those stupid decisions without chiming in and telling them what you would do if you were in their shoes. You respect their right to self-determination and are supportive instead of just telling them what they need to do. And that’s a good thing.