Here are some things I’ve been doing/thinking:
I had my first information interview with a therapist. It went very well, for the most part. The reassuring things about it were plentiful. Nothing she said about her job, both the good and bad parts, was surprising to me. This, I think, indicates that I have been fairly realistic about what I thought it would be like. I was a bit worried that I’d built it up, or created some fantasy version of the career, but that seems not to be the case, which is great. The other good thing was that I felt excited as she was talking. I have a tendency to imagine a career or look at a job ad and get really excited, and then instantly start talking myself out of it. I list all the things that would be annoying or draining, and I give up. I think this is something about self-protection. I think it’s also something about not wanting to let go of some of the things I love about academia. But whatever the case, that did not happen this time. I found myself instantly strategizing ways to manage potential problems or difficulties, and still felt excited about the prospect overall. The thing that was surprising was how long it might take. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for people who work in mental health having lots and lots and lots of training and supervision. But when faced with the reality of it – spending 2 years in a grad program and then many years of low or unpaid internships – I was devastated. It felt like doing a Ph.D. all over again and that is definitely not what I want. I spent a few days in a funk. But, I’m a bit better now. This person had one kind of degree I’ve been considering. But there is another that might lead to different kinds of internships. So I’m putting off worrying too much until I’ve spoken with folks who have taken that path.
In other job news, it’s not surprising that as soon as I come out here as an aspiring therapist, a totally different opportunity falls in my lap. One of the Flying Buttress’s colleagues heard about an administrative job at his current University and encouraged me to apply along with a giving a heads up to the hiring director. I know I denounced administrative work in my last post. And in general, I’m not that excited about pursuing a career in higher ed administration for its own sake. But, this particular job sounds interesting. And it pays well. When I think about getting that job, and having a few years to make some money and just relax for a while, I want to cry with relief. So I applied. Which now leads to my usual cycle of getting my hopes up, and planning out what the rest of my life would be like if I got it. This is why I hate applying for things – because I am really good at making it so hard on myself if/when they don’t work out.
Lastly, I made the trip I’ve been dreading all summer: I went back to campus. I did go over the summer with my close friend/office mate, who is also leaving the program, to clean out our shared office. It was cathartic – I brought speakers and we blasted some queercore (Team Dresch, don’t you want to do a reunion tour!?) while laughing about the things we found hidden in our desks and relished putting our comp text books in the “Free Books” pile. But this was the first time that I had to interact with people generally. I spent a lot of time hiding from my program because I didn’t want to explain myself, and I was terrified of what people thought of me for not pursuing this career. Well, thankfully, it seems like the rumor mill has been churning so it was not a surprise to anyone that I’m not on the market. And better yet, it felt awesome to see all these people scrambling to get out applications while teaching and writing, and not be one of them. I’ve talked to a few friends about my fear of telling academics that I am no longer one of them. A few of them have said, “Are you kidding? Most people will be jealous!” And I thought, jealous of what? Being in my thirties and having no idea what kind of work I want to do? Yeah, that sounds like a blast. Or I’ve been worried about what people would think about my reasons. Maybe they think I can’t hack it, or that I’m tough enough, or that I’m a lazy quitter. But something has shifted because when confronted with talking to actual people about this, particularly people who don’t know me very well, I found myself not caring at all what they thought. And then I came home to find this post on my google reader with the proclamation, “What you think of me is none of my business.” It’s so awesome to have the universe confirm what I was already thinking.