Photo Courtesy of Cecil Beaton Vogue Magazine 1948
I was sitting at a table outside the Aubopain in the train station in Philadelphia waiting for my train to Harrisburg for a conference for work. I was sitting there grateful. Exhausted but grateful. While I wasn’t psyched about the conference I was totally psyched about the break from the office, the break that came after consecutive days of suicidal students, peaked anxiety and full out panic attack in class students, and an armed robbery on campus.
I arrived at the station with plenty of time of my train’s departure in hopes of giving myself time to just breathe. Time to not check and respond to emails, not make sure my calendar accurately reflected all that comes with supervising grad interns who are leaving and hiring and training new ones, not call my parents and let them know I was at the station and remind them I’d be in sessions all day at the conference through Friday. I just wanted to let me mind wander.
After 20 minutes of mind wandering I decided I could at least read for my class. After all it was a class I was taking for pleasure. After reading the article and a little people watching my mind could not help but wander to the recent events at the office. My eyes filled with tears. I was overwhelmed yet I felt I had no right to be because I’m a counselor and that’s what counselor’s do.
We do suicide, depression, anxiety, and narcissism. We do the needing to vent, the relationship difficulties, family turbulence. We do all the negative junk in hopes of providing hope, support, and room for the positive stuff. Right?
Photo courtesy of Jocelina author of PinkChocolateBreak Blog
Well, eyes still filled with tears, I decided that I quit. I quit being a counselor because it wasn’t who I was or am. I have a lot of the qualities you find in a counselor, but I’m not a counselor. I’m a believer in change, I’m an advocate for change, I’m a change maker, big picture seer, encourage you to be a small step taker, writer, lover, liver, usually try to do gooder, second chance believer, educator, a challenger of the status quo, an organizer, insight haver, resource sharer, but I am not a counselor.
I inhaled deeply and thoughtfully and then I exhaled a sigh of relief. I felt strangely calm, strangely at ease. And I felt grateful. Not for the break, but because the stress of the previous days coupled with the removal of the stressful environment allowed me to be honest with myself. Furthermore the honesty was actually freeing.
As I said the words in my head several times “I quit. I am not a counselor” it was as if I immediately made room for all of the things I am and what I’d like to do with them. The list was pretty amazing, between what I have to offer and the possibilities of ways to offer them to others in a way that was soul satisfying and honestly aligned with the woman I am and intend to be. Then I got specific about what I am and what I was not going to do with those things, which included refusing to apply for a single traditional counseling gig.
As I checked the time and noticed it was almost time to board my train I was sure to make a note to take more time and further explore where I want to be with who I am. I knew I needed to get specific. I knew that quitting (mentally allowing myself to be open to the pursuit and/or reception of other opportunities and not boxing myself into the title or conventional role of “counselor”- I didn’t turn in a resignation) and taking inventory of all of those things that I am that led me to the counseling gig was crucial to me getting where I really needed to be.
Photo courtesy of Melvin Sokolsky for Harper’s Bazaar 1965
What do you need to be honest about yourself with and liberated from? What is it time for you to quit? Where do you need to be with all that you are?
Remember, sharing is caring! xxoo