(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)
Here I am, drowning in the sea of self-discovery. My tired arms are desperately flailing to find THAT ONE life preserver that’s just screaming for me to dedicate my life to grasping it.
I NEED to help people. I have been altruistic since childhood when I would gladly give up my “things” to children who wanted to share them. I rummaged through my parents’ box of my old school things and found a stack of notes sent home from preschool, one after the other informing them that I had been bitten again that day. Apparently if a kid needed to let out anger I was a willing target, repeatedly. Some may see that as a pushover but I would retort that they were perhaps just not as willing to “take one for the team” as I was. (ok, maybe I was a little bit of a pushover/ninny)
My major and I found each other in college when I suddenly decided to take 3 psychology courses in one semester just because – having never taken one before. I fell in love with the subject – the human mind is a fascinating thing that I could dedicate my life to learning about. I also felt this incredible enveloping sense of comfort when we studied disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar because inside I was screaming “OHMYGOD! They’re talking about ME!!!” But then there came the inevitable “psychology student syndrome” that every undergrad psych student experiences and I started to wonder if I would become a serial killer because yeah, sometimes I had dissociation, or maybe I was OCD because yeah, sometimes I have rituals and can’t stand disorder. But there it was, psychology, a field where I could understand people and help them understand AND help themselves. I was in love.
I graduated college with the BA in psych and double minors in women’s studies and sociology (overachiever! and truly I would have loved to have double majored in women’s studies but alas that was not available at the time) and set out into the world to help people. I started right out the gate working with juveniles on probation for substance abuse performing their intake evaluations as well as running group counseling for them. I loved it for a while. I was young enough to relate to these kids and try to reason with them rather than yell at them. Then I met the horrible parents who could care less about their kids. Some of the kids didn’t give any shits about my help and continued down the path of self-destruction. One kid ended up collapsing his lung from an overdose. I think my boss saw what the job was doing to my soul and he suggested that I try working on a preventative program. He gave me complete free reign to create my own program to teach at the local EBD school (emotional behavioral disorder). IT WAS AWESOME. Holy crap. I carefully crafted a six week program covering how the brain develops (because it’s important for teenagers to know that their frontal lobes which are responsible for reason are not fully developed until early-mid 20’s), nicotine addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, peer pressure, and how it’s awesome to be yourself and say no to those things. I had so much fun going to that school once a week and teaching 3 classrooms of about 10 kids each. I’m pretty sure only half of them listened but it felt amazing to even be trying to make a positive impact.
Since that job I have only had one other psych-related position – working at a residential facility for girls who had been removed from several other facilities due to misbehavior (meaning this place was almost the last resort before prison). This one was tough. I got bit. I had to physically restrain girls. I got to teach art therapy (yay!) only to have some of the girls throw their crayons at me (sad). I got yelled at and called some very nasty things. Yet again I saw parents that were worse than SCUM. It was heart breaking. There were a couple of girls that I connected with and happily saw them successfully leave the facility – but it wasn’t enough to make me feel like I made a difference. Soul. Crushed.
Fast forward today where I’m an office administrator not-so-sneakily trying to stack more HR responsibilities onto my plate because that’s what makes my soul feel more whole. Yes, I mostly punch calculator buttons and stare at Excel sheets, but today I got to work on making up our employee review process including using SMART goals both given to the employee and that the employee makes for themselves that they truly want to accomplish. My hope is to help our employees feel valued here and feel like they have a purpose – as well as educate their managers on how to give them SMART goals. I’m pretty nerdily excited.
Now, do I want to be a paper pusher for the rest of my life? Or the rest of my 30’s? No way! But this is paying my bills while I cook up my master scheme and continue to flail through the ocean of options that is realizing my purpose in life. . .
keepin it real – Jessie