Choosing a Career, or Dreaming One?

I lived many professional lives before becoming a therapist. While I was always grateful for those opportunities, I never felt quite “in my element” within those professional communities. Whether design, tech, or academe, I felt like an outsider. So it’s been a blessing to find myself feeling right at home as a therapist.

Oddly, it was never something I considered outright. I wasn’t one of those I’ve-always-wanted-to-help-people kind of people. I was always too engrossed in my own struggles to have much leftover for others. At least that’s what I thought.

So imagine my surprise when one day, a little over 10 years ago, the thought of becoming a therapist crossed my mind. No one could have been more surprised than me. It arose out of nowhere, startling, like a dream. But instead of rejecting it outright as a preposterous idea, I let the dreaminess of it live in me.

Sometimes I took conscious steps to explore the possibility:  I looked into going back to school in social work; I bought a major text book on Amazon to see what I’d be studying; I drafted admissions essays to get a sense of what I had to say for myself. It all helped clarify my interest and intention. About a year later, I found myself back in school, studying hard, loving my internships, and realizing that I had a knack for helping. Again surprised.

Sometimes it’s a matter of thinking things through, making lists, weighing options and doing all that prefrontal cortex executive decision-making. Making sense. Being practical. But sometimes it’s a matter of letting a dream materialize, not as something you consciously choose, but as something that chooses you. The last thing you’d expect.


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