I have been obsessed with writing for as long as I can remember.
Brutally truthful things, pieces of fiction, poems that rhymed perfectly (more that didn’t), a collection of sarcastic thank you notes to people who did me wrong or hurt me that I was building into a book.
I mean, anything and everything.
When I was in elementary school and stayed home sick, I would take a stack of loose leaf paper and “work on my book”. Scrawled in purple pen (that may have smelled like grapes!) I would get about a chapter in throughout the day. Always the same story about a girl who falls in love with her best friends brother and the details of them all hanging out after school.
Sort of a ‘Saved by the Bell’ meets ‘90210’ before either had been a thing.
[Sidenote: I’ve never had a friend whose brother I was interested in.]
[Uh, actually, now that I wrote that I remember it’s not true. Hi, Nicole!]
Anyway, my love affair with writing and chronicling things has gone on since I could properly hold a pen. So, it’s not surprising that in 1996 when I went to college I chose Journalism as my major.
I was going to write books. I was going to publish things. I was going to have my own line of greeting cards. Online diaries and blogs weren’t a thing at that point, but I’d come to have them, too.
So, here I am in the writing studio of my [first] college in New York and I just wasn’t into it. I didn’t want to write what I was told to, or how I was told to, I just wanted to do it. I was only a semester into it and I knew it was my hobby and I shouldn’t make it a career, I should keep it “my thing” and let it evolve organically.
I was also only seventeen and probably didn’t know shit about shit, but I was mostly right about this.
I had some friends and surveyed what they were doing and decided to take a psychology course the following semester as an elective.
Three chapters and a half a dozen assignments later I was hooked. Dr. Heath, who, in my memory looked like Ned Flanders and wore argyle sweaters, was the best. For me, his class was sort of like the feeling you get when you eat for the first time after being hungry all day. He served up the tastiest look at the world around me.
People are ridiculous. People are wonderful. People are assholes. People are selfless. People are fascinating!
I ended up transferring to a community college back at home where I piled on the Psychology electives. I was enthralled; I was diagnosing people in my head, in conversations with others and of course my usual introspection was in overdrive.
When my family moved to Wisconsin and I started school there, I declared Psychology as my major. I had an awesome advisor (Hi CB!) and he guided me to the right path for finishing my degree in a reasonable amount of time (I was ready to “get it over with” it’d been a several years long process at this point) and resources to pursue Psychology after I graduated, with the goal of becoming a therapist.
I love therapy.
I love talking, I love dissecting, I love analyzing.
I love ah-ha moments.
I love self care.
I love the process of unraveling our thoughts and feelings and putting them back together in a neater, but sometimes temporary way.
I love change, I love personal growth for me, for you, for whoever wants it.
I was going to be a therapist.
I was someone who wears the same black blouse every day with jeans because it’s the only outfit that feels comfortable and “looks good”.
Who was going to listen to me?
Seriously, if you went to a hairdresser with a bad ‘do, are you letting them near your hair?
Dentist with snaggly teeth? Tattoo artist with shaky hands?
I decided it wasn’t going to be a good fit after all, and decided to embrace a previous path I had considered; law school. I batted it around, took the grueling admissions test and wasn’t accepted into the programs I’d hoped.
More consulting with my advisor. Went for graduate work in Criminal Justice, to boost my applications; to show my stuff, to prove myself. I was going to reapply to law school after that.
It’s 2008, I’m reviewing application requirements. I’m over it. I’m tired, I’m waitressing, I’m fatter. I’m not going to stand up in a court room and be in the spotlight like this, I have minimal confidence (though I don’t show it much).
I don’t know what I’m going to do, who I’m going to be.
I’m just gonna live my life.
I’m a waitress. I’m a nanny. I’m a girlfriend. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m a friend. I am many things to many people.
Not all ‘woe is me, I’m nothing” but I’m not contributing to the world in a specific way. I keep saying to people that I want to be something.
I’m up and down for years soul searching, trying to figure out who and what I really am.
As I lost weight, I gained perspective.
When I’m just a few months post op from my weight loss surgery, I attend a support group. I am the most upbeat person there, I share everything, I offer insight to others, I am fully me.
I walk to my car ten feet tall, I feel better about me, I helped people feel better about them.
The group leader asks me to keep coming because my “energy is good for others”, so I do.
Then I am asked to partake in a heath expo at the hospital and speak as part of a panel, I jump at the chance.
I’m invited to join the mentor program; I am contacted via email and text by pre and post op patients picking my brain, asking for tips and guidance.
I’m encouraged by my medical team to be as involved in the process which others as I can. At my two year visit my surgeon asks “What next?”
I think for a second, “Dream job? Hang out at the hospital and talk to people about their lives, surgery or not. I mean, that’s not a job, but that’s the dream”
Turns out, it kind of is a job.
And I’m going to make it mine.
In a little over a month I’m starting my first round of classes toward my degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
I’m finally doing the damn thing.