The age old question: what do you want to be when you grow up? Well growing up I thought I would love to be a Pediatrician: not because I had any interest in being a doctor but rather I wanted to work with kids. I later thought hmm maybe a nurse because I still wanted to be in a profession that helped people but that perhaps wasn’t as lengthy as going to med school. That dream slipped away when I slipped…well more like fainted in my bio 30 lab at the sight of blood. It became more apparent that the answer to this question wasn’t just as simple as choosing a career out of a hat and working towards it. It was more about understanding yourself: your personal strengths and weaknesses. It was about connecting to what you are passionate about. Well I broke some real rules when I decided to enter the Bachelor of Arts program. Now if you come from a background where there are certain pressures associated with education you will understand what I mean; I was lucky however that my parents were happy to give me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do. I did my four years of Bachelor of Elementary Education and doing this degree was no walk in the park let me tell you. Now I don’t mean in terms of school work but more so about the behind the scenes comments I got to hear about me being in Education. Most of the friends I had were in Sciences and gunning for med school and I was quite excited for them. Somehow I did not seem to get similar appreciation back for the faculty that I had chosen; I heard comments like “Oh she’s in the lowest faculty here”, “Oh she won’t know, she’s in Education”, “Oh teaching? Anyone can do that” (and yep some of these came from “friends”). Well let me tell you no, not anyone can. But my post is not about me fighting for the cause that is the teaching profession but rather the hurdles I had to jump to get to where I’m at now. So of course there were these behind the scene comments but along with that there was the stress of being in a faculty in which a job was not guaranteed upon completion. That however did not discourage me and I continued through my 4 years. My two student teaching practicums only reassured me that teaching was where I wanted to be. Well graduation year came pretty quick and the “not being able to find a job” piece became an unfortunate reality. I applied to the Edmonton Public School Board just as every other graduate did and well got a letter in the mail basically telling me “try again later”. Thanks 8 Ball, I needed a little more than that. Well the discouragement that I tried to avoid throughout my degree somehow had creeped up on me. I decided I couldn’t just sit around and wait so I messaged a friend of mine and asked for a job at the daycare she was working at. People told me, “well that’s like the same thing as teaching”…let me tell you, it’s not! It was tough waking up some mornings and getting myself to work knowing that this was not what I wanted to be doing. I knew I needed to do something more or I would drive myself crazy thinking were those people right who told me education was not worth it? I thought back to year 2 of my undergrad, when I had told myself while sitting in my counselling course that if I ever did more school this is what I would do it in. So I began researching counselling psychology programs- I found a few Masters programs and figured hey if I am going to do this later anyways why not try applying now. One evening after a chat with my parents, I hopped onto my laptop and applied to a Masters program. Now to my surprise a month later I got a letter saying congratulations you have been accepted into the program. Well I sat there going wait I didn’t think about the part where I actually got in. After a long discussion once again with my parents I decided that it was the right time for me to gear up for some more school- I was young, fresh out of school and not too many “adult” responsibilities had hit me just yet. I accepted the offer and began my psych journey. Post attaining my Masters degree it still took me about 2 years to get to where I am at today. My first part time gig post getting my Masters degree severely underpaid but I did not care- I was doing what I loved and having a job in my field of work was like a whole new world to me; all of a sudden I felt valued. Today I am proud to say that I work as a Mental Health Therapist. I am in the first year of working my first full time job after having two degrees under my belt. I regret NONE of it- I may not be working as a teacher but my degree shaped me to be a better clinician; in my clinical role I use my teaching experience every day. In a world where it seemed everyone but me had it going for them, there were definitely points in my journey where I felt doubt, discouraged and somewhat hopeless but it was my drive and motivation that pulled through. Surrounding myself with people who became cheerleaders was step 1. Step 2 was to channel my resilience and step 3 was to allow myself to take a risk. Life will show you many challenges, you’ll fall down but it is up to us to get back up again. My feel good moment here was that after 6.5 years of post secondary schooling and 3 years of kicking it with part time jobs, I finally got my first full time job in 2018. My journey to where I am now was not an easy one and I’m sure there are others who have experienced their own challenges but the point of my story is to remember that there might be times in your journey where you want to give up BUT it is up to you to change your reality. Not everything goes as planned but each experience will become an important stepping stone in your journey. Take control, say yes to the challenges and make magic happen!
Until next time, keep shining!