It’s almost Thanksgiving, and it occurred to me that a year ago this week, the Flying Buttress and I were getting in the car and driving 4 hours to see Janelle Monáe, who I was and am totally obsessed with, at a show we had been looking forward to for months. Last fall was so so hard. And her Electric Lady album basically saved my life. Every Saturday when we were doing our hour and a half drive down to a crossfit gym and decent groceries, we would blast that and I would feel like there was a world out there somewhere where I made sense.
And now I feel like I’m kind of there. I mean, we don’t live in an urban paradise or anything but this is a good place for us. We have everything we need plus a little extra. I’m happy on a pretty fundamental level and have been for months. It’s a good feeling!
My post-academic quest is proceeding, though I’m realizing that I will never feel fully post while I have a partner that is still an academic, and while I find myself still drawn to the talks and ideas, and while our friends are still mostly from that world. But I’m pretty happy with that. The only weird thing is that I don’t have a job right now and am having trouble making the shift in the way I talk. I often find myself participating in the typical griping-about-students conversations as if I’m still teaching. I guess it’s all still very fresh. And I don’t really have a new work identity to grab onto yet. But that will come with time.
I wanted to post about the things I’ve done to get myself closer to my goals. Partially because I’ve always found the prospect of informational interviews and other things daunting, but I’m sort of making myself do it. And maybe listing those efforts will help someone else who doesn’t know where to start.
1. I determined a while ago that I wanted to be a therapist, and more lately that I want to be a sex therapist specifically. I did that through a lot of talking with career counselors and reading super cheesy self-help career books and doing all the exercises. And taking personality tests online etc. This is all embarrassing to admit for some reason, but fuck it, it helped.
2. So when I moved I finally decided that I am only applying to MSW programs. I did this after talking to some friends who had MSWs, and figuring out that it is a legitimate path to a therapy practice in my area. I also realized that I did not want a super-specific degree again. A counseling MA give me more limited career options than an MSW. With this one, I know that I can always change focuses in my career without getting a whole new degree.
3. After I moved, I started googling and found the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and did some reading on there. I then looked at their list of folks in my state who practice sex therapy and with whom I share similar interests and emailed two of them. They both were really happy to talk with me. The first, though, I fucked up royally and missed the phone appointment that we had set. So unlike me but I was just totally disorganized from the move. She seemed unwilling to reschedule, which is completely understandable. So I moved on to the second person, who said she would rather talk by email (yay!). So I emailed her four or five questions that I have, telling her that her answers didn’t have to be extensive, and she emailed me back such a wealth of information and a huge reading list, and gave me a new contact. So that was awesome and confirming. I haven’t followed up with finding new people yet or contacting the person she suggestion, but I will down the road. I just felt like that was enough for now.
4. I’ve been telling everyone that I’m applying to the MSW program in our town and one of the coaches at our gym put me in touch with another member who just finished it. So she and I had coffee and I got a much better idea of what the program was like and what to expect from the career following in general. Super helpful.
5. I have two volunteer gigs going. One at the local rape crisis center to get some more recent experience with counseling, and one at the humane society which is mostly just for me because I like walking dogs. But especially with the first one, I’ve gotten some good, recent experience and learned a lot about the various organizations in our town, which will be really useful in the future when I start working.
6. Like the true post academic that I am, I’ve been doing lots of reading in my new subject area.
7. I am also following the recorded lectures of some Berkeley psych classes (they have a ton of classes recorded and posted on-line, actually). I don’t necessarily need to do this – MSWs do not require a psych background. But it’s interesting and again putting me in the mindset of what I’ll be doing down the road. Something about my formal education background also makes me embarrassed about this. But again. Whatever. It’s been helpful and interesting.
I think that’s it. Do any of you reading this have other ideas for how to explore new careers and get ready for a switch, especially if they are more job and less grad-program related (as mine are, but I’m guessing we all have a decent idea of how to apply to grad school)? I’m interested for myself. But we could also build a wee archive here.
And just for fun, I leave you with the incomparable Janelle Monáe: