Your dreaming queen, Cydney, asked me to think about how I got to where I am now. Cue the anxious hitch in my chest and a soft laugh as my thoughts wander back. Back to scratching and clawing out of my own tiny hell only to spend a year learning how to breathe like a small child again, and how to release myself from boxes formed of other people’s expectations and beliefs. That same year held my favorite memories of freedom with my best friend by my side. I worked jobs that felt menial, and guilt would rise up as I thought about what I had said no to in Minneapolis. A “real job” and housing that didn’t have my parents’ name on the dotted line.
Tip #1: Sometimes moving forward looks like standing still. Or even going backwards. Always take care of you first, or else everything else will just crumble down anyway.
Then year two out of college came. I started a graduate program with the intentions of ending with a Ph.D. And then in the middle of working as a research assistant, I realized I didn’t want to be the person designing and executing research – I wanted to be like the qualitative interviewer who pushed and pulled the conversation with expert ease. I reapplied to graduate school and became a part of the social work program.
Tip #2: Rerouting is essential to success – don’t stick to the plan if the plan is no longer working for you.
Are you into The Office? Of course, you are! Don’t be Michael Scott driving the damn car into the lake simply because the GPS said to keep driving. Cause you’ll end up in a lake.
I moved to Linnwood Ave with three strangers and sat on the porch stoop feeling oddly at home even as the moving truck pulled away. I took a new job at the campus LGBT Center and my advocacy roots began to clamp down into new dirt. Clinicals started and for the first time in a long time, I felt my old friend perfectionism try to steal my breath. So much new, so little experience, and such high expectations.
Tip #3: Failure is the key to perfecting anything. But no one tells you that.
That for days and months you will feel utterly out of your element and stretched so thin that holes poke through. But then one day you will breathe in and exhale with ease. You paid the first price of mastery, but then discipline and consistency will be the second fees. And they will come due. And in the middle of career fears, your student loans will boldly fill you with a panic that demands you to give up. Those loans really ought to have some sort of villianish name by now.
Tip #4: Be smart with your loans, but remember that you’re worth the investment in a future you will be proud to live in.
It was someone else’s heartbreak that first moved me to write. It cracked me open because I knew the depths of that pain, and I realized whatever this was – it was a part me. So much so that if left ignored, I knew it would negatively affect my wellbeing. And just like that, writing became something I plugged away at – blogs, magazines, organizations. It’s crazy to me that a few years later people will randomly ask me to write for them even though honestly, I’ve switched to fiction over my blog most days – like what? Writing is my heart though. Practicing therapy is rewarding, but writing is what has and will always keep me up with the rest of the night owls.
Tip #5: Find what moves you – the thing that you’ll spend an insane amount of hours on, but it only feels like one. Never let that go, it is worth so much more than we can comprehend. Our passions create art and art is power.
As I ponder over the past few years, I can see a map of my risks connecting to new risks and how deeply I have been blessed for taking jumps that scared me witless. I have a tribe of women sprawling across the globe – they are fierce, intelligent, and doing things both big & small. I have worked retail, waited tables, run advocacy workshops, done research, therapy, and written for sources that I couldn’t believe accepted my pitch. Right now, I’m transitioning into my first full time therapist position, revising my manuscript, learning to teach barre and honestly, quite a bit more. I mean I freaking started a business a month ago. Sometimes I do a writing podcast with my writing bestie. My life is FULL and crazy and I love it. And I will say this a thousand times over – it won’t always feel good, you will be bad before you are remotely great, and persistence is key. I recently read that if you always feel like you’re stuck in a learning curve, then be thankful because it means you’re moving forward. I couldn’t agree more.
Writer. Clinical SW grad student. Lover of fluffy puppies. Lipstick aficionado.