For the past two weeks, I have been positively shivering with excitement. Do you ever physically shiver when you’re excited, by the way? Is that just me and chihuahuas? Well, whatever. The point is lately I have felt as though I have a hearty dose of adrenaline coursing through my veins.
This sensation has been particularly pronounced ever since I started reading a certain book. It's the kind of book that prompts involuntary verbal declarations of “Whoa," “Really?” and “Ohmuhgah I love this so damn much.” The book is called On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler, and I’m reading it because, well, I’m in training to become a therapist.
(Specifically, I’m training to become a mental health counselor, but I realize a lot of people might not know what that is exactly, so for now, let's just go with therapist.)
Yep. That's some news right there.
For the record, this isn’t just some lofty goal that I hope to pursue in the distant future. This is happening, like, right now. Two weeks ago, I started my graduate studies through a digital learning program at Northwestern University where I will later receive my Master of Arts in Counseling. I bought textbooks. I filled out my FAFSA. I just turned in an essay in APA format for a class called Introduction to Clinical Practice. This is real.
For anyone who just stumbled upon this blog today, perhaps right now you are thinking, “Oh, how nice. Best of luck to you, stranger.” If, however, you have been reading my stuff for a while, or if you happen to know me in real life, your reaction may be more along the lines of, “OH! Okay, cool…but hey…I thought…”
You thought I was a writer. And you thought I was loving it.
And you know what? You were right!
Rest assured that this decision was not brought on by the usual dissatisfaction that often surrounds abrupt professional shifts – miserable bosses, grueling schedules, repetitive tasks that make you want to peel your eyeballs out. I'm not going to lie: writing professionally is a pretty sweet gig, and it doesn't involve any of those bummers.
So, no. I'm not becoming a mental health counselor because I hate writing. I love it. I love it so much it's almost embarrassing.
But I, much like you, love other things too. One thing I especially love is humans.
Seriously, how great are humans? I love those guys. I love their faces. I love the way they laugh, teach kickboxing classes, and build rocket ships. I love how they connect through the silliest things -- basketball, old episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, dog Instagram accounts. Of course, I also love how they connect through deeper things -- values, tragedy, compassion, loss. I love the way they transfer messages to each other through nonverbal communication. I love how no two humans are exactly alike, similar to snowflakes or pancakes. I love how they think and feel, and how hard it is for them to reconcile those two actions. I love how they figure stuff out by struggling and how dope they look in hats.
You get it. The humans: I love them.
In this work I've been doing over the past year in helping creative humans find their footing, I have found that I am at my best when I'm able to walk with someone as they seek to reach a goal. It's a thing I love. It's a thing that, perhaps somewhat selfishly, leaves me fascinated. And honestly, that's why I'm going into this career (along with other reasons like wanting to give back and, you know, all of that other altruistic stuff that I probably should have led with).
For the record -- and this is key -- when I look at my career as a writer alongside this new step towards becoming a counselor, I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. This isn't an "or" type of situation. It's an "and" kind of thing.
To be clear, this means that I will keep writing (because how could I stop?) AND-DDDD I will also be a therapist.
Got it? I think you got it.
All of that said, you may be wondering -- how will this affect my current writing endeavors, such as this blog or my upcoming book of essays?
First off, not at all...hopefully?
Well, maybe a little.
As for my blog posting schedule: I already keep this intentionally light, clocking in at one or two mega blog posts a month. ("Mega blog posts" are what I call extra long blog posts which, let's be real, is all of my blog posts.) I honestly hope to maintain that frequency, but while I'm trying to figure out how to be a student again, I imagine that might not always be easy to do. This is one of those areas that I am just going to feel out, and I hope I can count on your abundant patience as I do that.
As for the book: This will not affect that! It's still happening! Albeit, it's happening a bit later than I originally thought it would, but I'm going to be delivering my book of essays shortly to the beautiful folks who pre-ordered, and then I will be launching it officially later in the year. Deets on that to come.
As for this blog in general: Already in the two weeks that I have been enrolled in this program, my mind has been SWIMMING with stuff I want to share with you -- lessons about interpersonal neurobiology, behavioral theories, and even basic stuff like how to differentiate between types of therapists. (I finally figured it out!)
For this reason, you will probably see some slightly psych-centered posts around these parts. I mean, hey, I may be paying out the nose for my master's degree, but I'm so jazzed about the stuff I'm learning that I want the chance to share it with you for free. And I'll make it fun. Promise.
So that's the big news! It's been a crazy last few months figuring all of this stuff out, and hopefully it will be an even crazier rest of my life as I get to love and care for that which I love so very much: humans.