Thursday, January 2, 2014

Time for a cool change?

I’ve always envied those people who seemed to have been born knowing what they want to do with their lives. I knew a few of them in high school and their certainty of purpose awed me. I had no idea what I wanted to do, which is partly why I joined the Army after graduating. I figured being in the military would buy me a few years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

That lack of defined purpose stuck with me for years. Even after graduating from college, I didn’t really have a plan or a clear goal for a career. I had flirted with the idea of law school but real life intervened there (one child developed a serious chronic illness and the marriage, which had limped along for years, finally died). Plus I was hampered by fears of failure and felt as though I was an impostor, thinking I could do these things. I was also really interested in counseling psychology but was even more afraid of going for a PhD in clinical psychology, in terms of time, money and effort. Still, that dream persisted.

In 2005, I’d finally worked up my courage to pursue the counseling degree. I’d done my research and found an M.S. program that was well respected in the area, and would prep me for getting licensed in both Kansas and Missouri. But I needed two more undergraduate courses: a stats class and one more psychology class so that spring I took the stats class and an intro to industrial/organizational psychology class.

Now keep in mind, I was still really scared about this career change. You don’t get rich by becoming a counselor or therapist, especially if all you have is an M.S. But I believed that a PhD wouldn’t be worth the time and money at this stage in my life – the juice just wouldn’t be worth the squeeze. I still thought maybe I was being presumptuous by thinking I could do any good in this field. Long story short, I let my fears derail the original plan and I ended up not going for the counseling degree. Instead, I got an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology.

But that dream of being a counselor, that desire has never left me.

Here I am, nine years later with an M.S. in psychology, and I’ve enjoyed some of the work I’ve done. But I’ve realized the areas I’ve enjoyed are the ones that help people rather than organizations. It probably sounds like a subtle difference, but over the course of the last six years as I’ve practiced in this area, that difference has become bigger and bigger.

If you’re still reading, I’m almost done. All of this prefaces the changes that I’m in the process of making – I turned in my notice at my job last month. I’ve narrowed down the counseling programs to two choices. I’ve identified at least one area where I can volunteer that will get me moving toward the field I want to be in and frankly, I’m still scared to death. I'd love to know what you think about this change. Am I crazy to think I can do any good here? Should I just suck it up and return to corporate America? I'd like to know what you think.


Diane Russell said...

No, you're not crazy. It's never too late to go for the dream. You can do it!

peachykeen said...

Your passion, not your fears, should drive you! If I tell you "it's about time" please know that it's because I've experienced a small part of your potential, and I believe that it's time others have the opportunity to benefit from your wisdom and insight as well.

Jeanne said...

Absolutely you should go for it! Learning new things keeps your life interesting and fun, and getting the opportunity to use what you've learned makes you feel your life counts.

Lesa said...

I think you can do it and I think your past experience would be valuable as you work towards counseling others. You understand challenges. You have faced so many and come through them. You understand feeling overwhelmed and deciding to delay a decision but then coming back to it and making a different choice. I think you will be able to use your experience to empathize and also guide. Be sure to get good advice from people in all fields of counseling. It is a broad field. Good luck and God speed!