A few years ago I came back from a big meeting at work energized, excited and enthused. Most days work was a struggle for me to stay interested and on task. But every time I came back from a meeting and from working with other people and tossing around ideas and thinking up a plan, I was enthused and energized. That day I started to wonder if maybe there was a job out there where I could get paid to just sit and talk to people. Where instead of business being my business, people were my business.
I think that day was the day I started seriously contemplating changing my career track. What it brought me to was additional schooling and going into therapy. I've been a bit tentative about that decision for several reasons. I've asked myself over and over again "Is this really what you want do? Is this really what you see yourself doing?" I've already played the nonchalant game of just pick a major and see where it takes you. I know that despite some outward appearance of career-focus, in the back of my mind I didn't plan on working in a career for very long because . . . you know, other things would happen like getting married and having kids and being a stay at home mom.
Cough. Choke. Sputter. Except that's not where life went for me.
So, here I am, in my thirties and still wondering what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. And now, I'm immersed in classes and doing research and wishing most days that somehow I had figured this all out before. And that instead of just dipping my toe into the possibility of changing my life, I could jump in with both feet. Could this dream become a reality for me?
Which is where the mental hospital comes in. (And no, it's not what you are thinking, thank you very much.)
I'm volunteering at a mental hospital right now for a class. They don't let the volunteers do anything really serious--mostly we get to help in the library, put together dances and game night, and sometimes help the patients with physical therapy. That's about the extent of it.
The funny thing is: I love it.
Volunteering is part of my grade for this class and I assumed it was going to be a chunk of my life that I would never get back and all for a good grade. But the first day of volunteering my entire perspective changed.
I was helping in the library and the librarian was explaining where everything was, how to check out media items and how things were categorized. In short order we had completed every task and I was a bit antsy. What else should I be doing? How else was I supposed to help? So, I asked her what she else she wanted us to do and what other tasks needed to be completed. She stopped whatever she was doing, looked me straight in the eye and said,
"What I really want you to do is observe the people and talk to them."
Cough. Choke. Sputter. Really?
My first thought was "Honey, I do that in my sleep. Now tell me what you really want me to do." After looking at this woman and realizing she was not kidding, I got a little bit giddy. You mean, I can volunteer here every week and that is what you want me to do is just talk to people? Umm, okay. I think I can handle that.
And thus I entered nirvana. A entirely blissful state where it occurred to me that if I can continue on this current career track, I might actually get my wish:
Someday I might actually have a job where I get to sit and talk to people. All day. Every day. About things that really matter.
Suddenly, I don't feel tentative about this career change at all.