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abbycadabby posted 6/11/2014 09:31 AM

Hey all. I guess I need to purge again. Not sure what Iím looking for here, but I just need to get it all out.

If anyone doesnít remember my story, I was enrolled in a Masterís program at a university last summer and fall (was making straight As!) but had to quit due to internship/work conflict. Simply put, the university, although it advertised ďlimited number of Saturday field placements,Ē would not work with me on creating an internship that would allow me to continue working. As a single mom, quitting my job seemed unconscionable, especially given that Iím only a few months away from vesting- at my job this is a 10 year process.

So, yesterday, on a whim, I called up a different local university to inquire about a program they offer. It seems as though the program might be a good fit for me. But I think Iím scared. Calling the university was a good thing- I was seeking information and I got that information. However, it awakened emotions inside me that I had been trying to keep stuffed down. Frankly, I think Iím depressed about having to quit grad school and overall Iím dissatisfied with the choices Iíve made for my life. I could literally kick myself for making the choices Iíve made, taking the paths Iíve taken, and essentially screwing everything up in the process. Iím not happy. I have a job, and thank God for that, but this work is far removed from anything I ever considered myself doing and is totally not rewarding. Further, itís work that does not utilize my undergraduate degree in any way.

I had been talking sporadically to my pastorís wife who was trying to give me some advice and a reference for some other jobs I interviewed for. I caught up with her again last night at church and we talked for a LOOOOONNNGGG time. She summed me up in one brief sentence, ďyou need to learn to think for yourself.Ē That statement was in response to another statement I had made but it has stuck with me. DO I think for myself? Iíve gone my entire life with a mom who, although I love her to pieces, has dissuaded me from nearly every path I was interested in. I was interested in Special Ed- she dismissed that and suggested I avoid education because so-and-so is a teacher and has had a very hard time with it. I wanted to do forensic science- she reminded me Iíd have to ďgo to the body farm up in TNĒ and have to deal with badly decomposed bodies and can you really handle that, abbycadabby? And various jobs along the way- oh, you donít want to work there, Iíve heard _________ about that place.

To top that off, I had my exWH telling me I couldnít succeed as well. He never supported me and outright predicted that I would fail. He said I wouldnít be able to ďhackĒ grad school. As an aside, I did indeed have to quit grad school- does that mean my ex was right about me?

So, Iím thinking, maybe I donít think for myself. With regard to potential employment fields, I listen to the people around me, and I then go research it on my own. I look up the employment outlook on the OOH and figure out how that job will look in the next 10 years or so. I determine what becoming ______ would require of me and determine whether or not I could handle that process. But then comes the uncertainty. Personally, I know who I am, I just donít know what I want to be. I know what Iím good at, but there are so many paths I could take to get me to a place of contribution to society. I have no calling. I envy those around me who know (from a young age at times) what their lifeís purpose is. I just donít know what I want to do. I could go into counseling. I could go into education. I could get a second bachelors degree in something else. I could get a masterís degree in occupational therapy. I just canít decide. Any of those seem like worthwhile endeavors, I just cannot pick. Iím not drawn to any particular career over anything else.

To compound the issue, Iím dating a really awesome guy. Weíve dated for almost 1.5 years. Iím crazy about him. We talk about marriage and while Iím not wearing an engagement ring yet, I very much like the idea of us getting married one day. Itís an LDR- he lives in a different state. But what does that mean for my future? If I start a program here locally will I have to quit again before I complete it? Do I put my dreams/talks of marriage on hold in order to finish my education? Or do I put education on hold for awhile and regroup emotionally, in the meantime figure out what path to take forward and then pursue my education after we marry? Or, do I commit to a local program and get married and have a long distance marriage until I finish school? OR, do I begin the program here and keep my fingers crossed that my credits transfer to a university in his state?

I feel stuck. I feel hopeless. I feel as though Iíve fucked my life up beyond repair. And I donít know where to go from here.

Advice? 2x4s? Hugs?

If you made it this far, I thank you.

[This message edited by abbycadabby at 9:33 AM, June 11th (Wednesday)]

Crescita posted 6/11/2014 12:54 PM

(((abby))) I can definitely relate to the confusion that comes with a lack of calling. You are capable of doing anything, but feel stuck with too many options.

Is there a career counselor you can speak to at any of the colleges you are considering? Maybe you could arrange to volunteer or shadow someone in a field that interests you.

As for making your own decisions, list your priorities, find something that fits, and take the plunge. Sorry for the 2x4, but no matter who influences you, you do need to own your decisions. Your mother, your ex, and your current SO arenít responsible if you choose to put their opinions above your own. You are the one who has to act in your best interest and has the clearest idea of what that is. The choices you make might not ultimately be the right ones, but you canít make a choice that feels wrong and blame someone else if it doesnít pan out.

abbycadabby posted 6/11/2014 13:10 PM

Thanks Crescita. This isn't a new problem. I took an interest inventory at the first university I attended just after high school. When one of the answers came back circus performer, I kinda dismissed that!

I appreciate the 2x4s. I know that my circumstances are my fault. I made the decisions. I listened to those around me, I have those voices in my head telling me I can't, and I kinda made my bed. I have no one to blame but myself.

But I'm stuck on how to move forward. I know that this is changeable, but I feel as though I have one shot to finally get it right this time. Cue intense pressure. I also know that this limbo I'm in has me going crazy but there are so many options and variables that I feel paralyzed into indecision (and I'm fairly indecisive anyway).


Crescita posted 6/11/2014 13:22 PM

But I'm stuck on how to move forward. I know that this is changeable, but I feel as though I have one shot to finally get it right this time. Cue intense pressure. I also know that this limbo I'm in has me going crazy but there are so many options and variables that I feel paralyzed into indecision (and I'm fairly indecisive anyway).

Oh you have lot's of shots left. If you wait two years to do anything, you are in the same spot but two years older, then if you regret your choice you will feel even more pressure to stick to it. So maybe you take a few classes, or save to take time off work, whatever little steps you can take now to make you feel less stuck. You don't have to plan your whole life right away, just find something that keeps your options open. Not that you need more options but something broad enough to be flexible and narrowed over time.

abbycadabby posted 6/11/2014 13:41 PM

Oh gosh. I do NOT need any more options. It doesn't even help for me list what I'm not good at. Math and math based sciences are about it. I like just about everything else. Unfortunately, that knocks a lot of potentially lucrative fields out of the running.

A friend asked me what would make me happy. I said, I don't know. She asked, what's on my bucket list. Um, I don't HAVE a bucket list. I have only the barest idea which direction to head.

I'm leaning towards service field. That's what feels right to me. I'm thinking it could be any of the following:

1) nursing- if I could handle the chemistry
2) counseling/therapy
a)substance abuse
d)marriage and family
e)child therapist
3) occupational therapy
4) social work?
5) teaching
6) clinical psychologist
7) psychiatrist?
8) sign language interpreter?
9) mobility specialist?
10) speech/language pathologist? My southern accent might impede this

And probably even more than that. I just have so many interests.

[This message edited by abbycadabby at 1:47 PM, June 11th (Wednesday)]

Dreamboat posted 6/11/2014 14:40 PM

What master program were you in before? And will any of those credits transfer? If you had not run into the internship obstacle, do you think you would have been satisfied in that career.

I think you need to trim down your list. You already crossed off speech therapy. Do you already know sign language? If not then I think that would be a very difficult field to get into. To narrow it down even more, look at the requirements of various programs, look at what credits you already have, and then see which of these you can complete in the least amount of time. (a lot of the fields you listed are therapy based so I imagine that the requirements for them are similar) Once you do that, you may look at your list and say to yourself "I could complete these 3 or 4 quickly, but I really want to do this other thing that will take longer." Or you may say to yourself "This one will take the least amount of time AND it is what I really want to do". Or you might just say "This one I can complete the quickest so I will do that".

I also would not think about possibly moving to another state in the future. Why? Because of "possibly" and "in the future". You do not have any plans to do that right now, so don't muddle your "right now" decision with what you might do later. Cross that bridge when you actually get to it.

Finally, turn off the voices in your head from other people. Especially your X! You have gone thru infidelity hell and come out the other end doing just fine. You have already proven to yourself that you can handle anything that life is going to throw at you. Who cares if other people are doubters? The most important opinion is YOURS, their opinions are just distracting noise.


Crescita posted 6/11/2014 14:40 PM

That actually does narrow it down a bit. In colleges around me most of those fields would require what is called a "Pre-health thematic minor" which includes courses in statistics, public speaking, biology, anatomy, and psychology. Broad degrees that cover many of those careers could include social work, counseling, or public service. You can tailor a degree towards a career through specializing in a specific area or volunteer/work experience, or you can change course without too much damage if you decide you prefer one particular area over another.

I like to print out the course requirements of all the fields that interest me and then pick out the overlapping requirements and start with those.

You can do this

norabird posted 6/11/2014 14:55 PM

So many hugs, honey. It's hard to move forward when you keep beating yourself up from the past. Try to believe that where you are in your life right now is, though you can't see it, where you should be. And believe that if you set your mind on going somewhere else, moving to a new can get there.

abbycadabby posted 6/11/2014 14:56 PM

Dreamboat- The program was Master of Social Work. I don't know if any of the credits would transfer.

Crescita- my undergrad is Bachelor of Science Psych. I should have the "pre-health thematic minor" covered, unless I'm misunderstanding you.

Thanks for the support!

ETA: thanks norabird. We cross posted. I definitely DO beat myself up about the past. I get mired in it sometimes.

[This message edited by abbycadabby at 2:58 PM, June 11th (Wednesday)]

fireproof posted 6/11/2014 22:39 PM

This is important and sometimes this feeling of being unsettled an help move us forward.

Find out more about the program. How long and if you move in x years can you transfer your credits easily?

Knowledge is power. The happier you are the happier your family and SO will be.

If you start your program assuming it is 2-3 years or possibly longer unless you go to a super small area you can either transfer or you can wait the few years but be married. It isn't ideal but you will be happy and people do it a ton. Some programs run eight years and the spouse doesn't want to be alone so they move back to his/her family but the other one stays to finish school for their future. The right person will understand how much it means and choose to wait.

You have a gift of compassion. Listen to yourself the rest will fall into place.

Sad in AZ posted 6/11/2014 23:22 PM

OK; I'm a little worried. Your desired choice worries me. I see this a lot in people who've been through trauma. They feel that their experiences can help others--it's SO not true. I have experience in dealing with people who've gone into counseling/social services/etc. You need to be very strong to do this and actually help other people. Search your soul to determine if this is truly your strong suit or are you drawing on the personal experiences.

I know; this sounds boorish, condescending and just like your mother. I am a mother--and an intuitive--and as I said, I've worked with people in these fields. JMO, but I'd rather see you become a circus performer.

ETA: And, if you can tell me to go fuck myself, you've got my blessings

[This message edited by Sad in AZ at 11:23 PM, June 11th (Wednesday)]

sadcat posted 6/12/2014 07:16 AM

Hey Abby!

The common theme I see in your list of interests is the desire to be of service and truly help people.

So we know that you would like to do that.

So let's think about the structure of the perfect job. Should it be relaxed? Very structured with a lot of processes and procedures? Working hours? 3 or 4 longer shifts in a week or 8-5 daily? In an office or in an environment where you go from location to location?

The answers to these questions may help you define not only what you like intellectually but also what would work for you on a day to day basis.

In regards to school- there are a lot of online programs or online/in person hybrid programs that could work for you even if you move. There are some schools to avoid, of course, but I am sure with a little research you can find one that will work for almost any path you choose!

Overall I am going to say to cut yourself some slack and not get too caught in the "what if" cycle.

[This message edited by sadcat at 7:17 AM, June 12th (Thursday)]

abbycadabby posted 6/12/2014 08:42 AM

You have a gift of compassion. Listen to yourself the rest will fall into place

Thank you, fireproof. I do tend to be very compassionate. But I also know my limits. For instance, because I've experienced CSA, I could never work with child protective services. It is a noble and worthy profession; I envy those who are able to make a difference in that way. But seeing those children every day, who have experienced such horror and have been subject to such abhorrent behavior would break my heart. I think I would trigger every day to work there, which wouldn't make me a very effective employee, I wouldn't think. In my MSW program, I had declared my intent to work with the aging/elderly population, who are just as vulnerable but somehow it was different in my mind.

ETA: And, if you can tell me to go fuck myself, you've got my blessings

I'm not going to tell you to go fuck yourself, nor have I thought anything of the sort. On the contrary, I'd like for you to explain what you mean. I'm assuming you mean that sometimes a person's individual trauma is too great to allow them to effectively work with others in a helping role. Additionally, I'm assuming that hearing others' trauma triggers them (the helping professional) and then renders them incapable of being of service. If this is the case, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. In my experience with IC, it was a blessing to me that I found out the barest minimum about her personal trauma. She did not go into detail, she didn't hijack my session, but she affirmed that she had experienced CSA. It was a revelation to me! If she can be emotionally healthy enough to be of service as a counselor, then so can I. Secondly, I've heard that the best addictions counselors are former addicts, meaning, someone with personal experience with overcoming great adversity can often be of the best service because they can relate personally. Third, regardless of my personal trauma, it's kinda in my blood. My grandfather's surname was Butler- it's a surname that denotes a person of service. He was a minister. I have several teachers in my family. A counselor. I don't know what any of his ancestors were but I'm interested to find out. Fourth, beyond my trauma, I feel called to be person of service, I'm just not sure what field to pursue. Fifth, if I didn't serve, what WOULD I do?

So let's think about the structure of the perfect job. Should it be relaxed? Very structured with a lot of processes and procedures? Working hours? 3 or 4 longer shifts in a week or 8-5 daily? In an office or in an environment where you go from location to location?

Hey sadcat! I'm really not particular about any of the above. The only limitations I have revolve around my child's schedule. I'd need to be available to care for him as I have full custody and his dad only has EOW visitation. Just about anything between the hours of 8-5 are doable whether I travel from office to other locations or stay in office all day. I would like a relaxed atmosphere.

Additionally, I am not opposed to doing other things. I've heard of people obtaining jobs that are not affiliated directly with their fields of study, but they got the job simply by virtue of completing a college degree. If something like that happened, I would be okay with it. I could still be a person of service by volunteering within my community.

[This message edited by abbycadabby at 8:50 AM, June 12th (Thursday)]

cmego posted 6/12/2014 08:58 AM

I definitely enjoy helping people too, and I started a degree (a looong time ago) for Art Therapy and I worked in an emergency department doing some quasi social work to get my foot in the door. (It was like a customer service person in the ER, but I was talking with trauma patients, or helping patients get services after trauma or death).

I lasted 3 months in that job. I couldn't separate myself from the trauma in those peoples lives. My Mom, on the other hand, has worked in oncology departments and now volunteers with hospice. She just has that ability and I realized I do not.

I ended up in Human Resources. I still could "help" people, but the emotional toil on me was much less. Now I'm working on a grad degree in the legal field.

I do a lot of volunteer work (trying to get into a local legal aide organization now, and work for the local food bank and for the American Heart Association) to feed that "I want to help people" side of me.

Knowing your emotional limitations, yet find a way to feed it tooÖdoes that make sense?

As I"m back in school, my interests are growing and changing tooÖ.I posted in off topic about either switching degrees or going into something else.

abbycadabby posted 6/12/2014 10:51 AM

I have no calling.

I feel called to be person of service

These two things sound contradictory, but I just meant I have no specific pull toward one area over any other.

Cmego- thank you for your response! I get what you are saying. I addressed it in my post just above yours. I'm not opposed to doing other work so long as I can fulfill my desire to serve the community in another capacity through volunteerism.

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