Proving Grounds.

July 12, 2011 at 10:35 am | Posted in Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy) | 7 Comments

The more I see my therapist and talk, the more patterns start to emerge.

Before I started working with her, I never realized that I disparaged myself.

I didn’t know that I tried to discount my feelings.

But one of the foundations of my coping mechanisms, something I never really SAW until now, is starting to make itself known.

I feel like I have something to prove.

All the time.

Twelve years ago I was completely undecided on what I wanted to do with my life. I was a recruiter for a temp agency and bored with my job. I had an English degree and not much else. So of course I needed to go back to school for a masters degree*.

My parents had always voiced the opinion that I’d make a good lawyer, because I fought them so hard on, well, really, most everything.

However, I had a friend who was getting her MBA at a local university, and it intrigued me.

So I mentioned it to my father, who was a businessman – that I was considering looking into getting my MBA.

His reaction was to laugh and say, You can’t get a MBA! You aren’t very good with numbers, Serenity.

Well, that’s all it took for me to decide that definitively I was going to get my MBA. I was going to SHOW HIM.

And then, a few years later, when I was unemployed and had decided to become an accountant, a professor told me he didn’t think I was detail-oriented enough to be a good accountant.

That got me focused on working really hard on being detailed, and damned if he didn’t give me an A in the final class I took with him.

Problem is, I’ve spent so much time in my career proving that I can work hard/be detailed/get better that I’ve never actually considered what might actually make me happy.

And I’m starting to realize that now. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my job has recently been sucking the soul from me.

Yes, I CAN be detailed, but it’s not what I enjoy doing. And the sort of work that needs to get done right now is the work that requires patience and detailed slow awful work.

And worse, to be GOOD at my job, to move up the ladder and succeed in the next 20 years doing what I do, requires the slow detailed awful work that I’m doing right now.

It will never end.

I don’t really have the words to convey my utter loathing for that sort of task. I know it’s important, and I’m doing it. But I hate EVERY. DAMN. MINUTE.

Yet, in my sessions, I’ve verbalized out loud to my therapist that I feel stuck.

Why is that? she asks me.

Because I’ve made choices in my past that have led me here. Because the responsible thing to do is pay off the debt on those two masters degrees working in a job I thought I should work. Because I decided that I was going to be an accountant and I need to hold myself accountable for that decision.

Because I’m an adult. With a family, and a mortgage, and responsibilities. That means I don’t have the freedom to selfishly choose something that makes me happy.

Except I’m fucking miserable.

So I’m trying to break free of the pattern of feeling that I HAVE to do what I’m doing right now, and really trying to consider what I might really LIKE to do.

Me, just me. No expectations of anyone else, no proving to someone that I can do something they don’t think I’m good at, etc.

But it’s really hard. I’m terrified of making yet another career change. What if I hate THAT one, too, in 10 years?

To which my therapist would counter, What’s so bad about changing careers every 10 years?

Challenging everything I’ve believed in at least the last 20 years is so fucking scary.

But somewhat empowering, too.

I haven’t made any decisions yet. Nor taken any steps. I’m not ready for that, because even THINKING about this stuff scares me right now.

But it’s progress, for sure.

____________________________________________

*I still can’t put my finger on why I felt I needed a masters. I have this sense that my parents told me that having an English degree really wasn’t practical, but it was good because it set me up for further schooling.

Why I decided that being a teacher wasn’t good enough, after wanting it through most of my primary AND secondary school education, I have no idea.

But it is what it is.

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7 Comments »

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  1. You can still go alternate route to be a teacher. I have an English degree, too … I hated it that people (my parents especially) said it wasn’t enough.

    Life change is scary. But as many people say, a door closes, and a window opens … it’s just hell in the hallway. 🙂

  2. I like your therapist. Smart lady.

  3. I think you have a great therapist. So glad you found her.

  4. I like your therapist too. I find it funny that you set out to prove people wrong. I wish I had in some things, like my mom telling me I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. She thought I was so uncoordinated. I would never tell my daughter stuff like that. Love what our parents have done to us. I’m sure they thought they were doing it right.

  5. Completely unrelated, but have you heard of the Potty Power DVD? I have a friend who recommended it to me & I just watched it for the first time with my daughter. Check it out my daughter was fascinated!

  6. OK, yet again, we are soul sisters. I never knew that you once worked for a temp agency. My entire career was in staffing! And, two, I’ve spent my entire life proving. I don’t know that I feel like I have to prove anything (I need to think on that) meaning I don’t cognitively set out to prove anything, but in my fractured relationship with my mother who has spent my whole life telling me what NOT to do and that I SHOULDN’T do exactly what I’m embarking on doing, there has been an “I’ll show you” mentality. And I have.

    Luckily my career was in an industry I loved, working with and for people I loved (I met my husband at work) and liked and for which I was well rewarded. Now, I can’t fathom returning to it, but what next? How/what am I going to do to earn a living now?

    I am so glad that you have found a therapist that you respect and take counsel from. You are on such a good path and I am very excited for you.

  7. I hope you find the ability to make whatever changes you need to make yourself happy. It’s a scary thing for sure, but I’m glad it’s something you’re thinking through in order to do what’s best for yourself.


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