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I stumbled upon some new (to me) remote job search sites. So I started looking. I think it would be nice to have another revenue stream that doesn’t revolve around getting more therapy clients. And wouldn’t it be nice to flex some other muscles, to remind myself that I’m more than a helping professional? To get paid for more than that?

God, yes, it really would.

Well, the same thing happened today that always happens. I have a lot of education and a lot of experience, but in ONE goddamn thing: being a therapist. I have other skills, and I’m a fairly quick learner, but if a job’s requirements center on what you’ve been doing for the last 3-5 years, then, yeah–I’m a therapist. I wish I’d known that going to grad school to be a therapist, studying to take a test about being a therapist, working in jobs related to being a therapist, getting additional training and supervision to be a therapist, and spending all my money on fees related to getting and staying licensed as a therapist would really only allow me to do one kind of thing: be a fucking therapist.

Yeah, I’m a little slow on the uptake, I know.

But when you feel completely lost about where you’re headed most of your adolescent and neo-adult years, finding one path to focus on–solely and completely–feels stable, it feels right. It feels like something you can sink your teeth into and never let go. Because if you let go, you flail and float off into the abyss. And who the fuck wants that??

Not this validation-seeking, parentified, terrified of being “found out” excuse for an adult, that’s who!

That’s who I was anyway, back when I entered the field. Sure, the vestiges of that mess still exist inside me, but I’ve healed a lot of that self-doubt. Being a therapist definitely reinforces the value of therapy, and therapy has been helpful. And yoga saved my life. And so did getting a cat. And just giving myself a break. I often joke that I got into this field because of my pathology, and now that my pathology has diminished and/or no longer runs my life, being a therapist no longer fits.

And yet, it’s the only thing that continues to fit.

Sure, I could get trained in something else….

But the thought of spending more money on education without knowing for sure that I’ll get a pretty good ROI from it… I. Just. Can’t. Even.

So I console myself by going back to the benefits of being a therapist. I work limited hours and still make enough to pay the bills–including the loans (a.k.a. the mortgage on my brain). I use the rest of my time to write my novel, see my friends, and learn how to sew. And when I cut my nails, maybe practice my guitar. Maybe.

This strategy has been working for a while. Rather than viewing myself as trapped into being a therapist, I try to view being a therapist as offering me the freedom to do the things that make me feel more interesting. To me, mind you. I’m not as concerned with what the rest of you think anymore (thank god for turning 30, amiright!).

That’s been my experience recently. I love my clients–they are forever insightful and intriguing. And being part of their journeys rewards my curiosity and is a powerful reminder that relationships are the seat of healing (I knew I got that tattoo for the right reasons–good job, 22-year-old me!).

But recent reflection on newer endeavors has made me curious about myself. I’m getting to know all the parts of me that I disowned or discredited for years.

  1. I recently reunited with a high school acquaintance. It turns out we make pretty good friends as adults 🙂 And she was kind enough to invite me onto her podcast. And though I spoke from my knowledge and experience as a therapist, I was still being me. Sham, who happens to be a therapist. Not, Shameela, professional healer. It was exhilarating!
  2. I really dove into my fantasy novel. The old me would have questioned myself: “Who the hell am I to write fantasy? What do I know about this genre?” Today, I answer: “I don’t know, except my love of all things magical and romantic and dark.” So yeah, I’m doing it, and it’s fun, and I feel the internal reward of doing something creative just for me. Yes, the positive feedback I get from people is fabulous. But the jitters I get when I write something I really love–no one can give me that, but me!
  3. I *heart* my sewing machine. It represents the marriage of creativity and certainty. If I follow directions and am careful, the result is the same each time! Yet, within those parameters, the more skilled I become, I can explore design, texture, color, lines, and shapes, and how they complement each other. There is nothing more smile-worthy than a finished product that is both aesthetically appealing and fully functional. Again, I *heart* my sewing machine.

That creative spark that was squelched in me so many years ago–for reasons that are too lengthy for this already lengthy blog–burns again! Creativity in self-expression, living through my words, ideas, and art. Creativity that blooms in conversation with people who want to know more about me than what it’s like being a therapist and how I can help them too.

This is great, I know 🙂 Except for the sadness and anxiety that arise when I have to go to work and do this other thing that just doesn’t light me up like that. I light up for my clients, as I’ve lit up for so many others who have needed me along the way. There’s a shadow to that light. When that’s the only light that guides your way–the light you shine for others–you lose sight of yourself. You have to shift the spotlight from time to time back toward yourself.

I accept where I am. I am grateful for where I am. I sometimes struggle with the reality of where I am, because it doesn’t always reflect who I am. But it’ll do for now.

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