one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

Making peace with your career

Yesterday’s class was great. Most continuing education days pass extra slow unless your speaker has comedy talent. Ours did even after 41 years of PT or perhaps because of it. If your sense of humor remains intact after four decades in health care, you were probably meant for it in the first place. Our class laughed so hard. Dry humor + quick wit + southern accent is pretty irresistible. We learn best from likable people. Just bombard them with your personality, my old boss used to tell me when I inquired about his high patient satisfaction rate. I tried, but results varied. It’s a lot of people energy for introverts to entertain the patient at the same time. (No doubt many patients have entertained me though.)

Classes can be professional highlights because they usually include some rock star patient miracle story, someone whose life has been dramatically altered by therapy. Yesterday we all gasped when she mentioned restoring at least a couple of babies sight who had been declared blind. Although miracles are infrequent (if you don’t count the tiny ones) these type of stories remind me why I wanted to be a therapist in the first place. Help people. Transform lives. Tell good stories with my work. We live and go to work for those moments.

Except then we actually go to work and things don’t feel as warm and fluffy as in the classroom. Certainly after fifteen years the novelty of being a professional has worn off. Endless computer work with ever changing updates and rules, inappropriate referrals and drama of every kind. Yet most of us return to our desks, semi-chipper and ready to change another life. What’s changing mostly though is my picture of the profession and even more myself. I am less optimistic about my power to heal. I underestimated the high demand of the work, people’s moods and attitudes reflecting on my own.

So I imagine myself in a cabin in the woods. Rain is pounding on the windows, keeping pace with the tap tap on my keyboard. No one needs me. I hack out 2000 words in one hour, drink a little coffee, then write some more. Compared to listening to people’s problems under fluorescent lights, the cabin sounds heavenly.

I am tempted to buy into the old greener grass on the other side of the fence fallacy. I can easily fantasize about other sorts of work which would feed my soul (but maybe not my kids 🙂 and think if only…

About five years ago or so I made peace with my career. Five years ago my youngest was born and each time I’ve had a baby I’ve thought of quitting because babies hate being left by mama’s. And mama’s hate leaving sad babies even if it’s only two days a week. But sad babies turn into happy children who can’t wait for their mom to leave for work so they can go play at their friend’s house. This has happened here anyways.

Sometimes simply accepting the way things is the most brave and loving thing I can do. If my family needs me to work, then I can put on my girl pants and push my fears and worries aside and go to work. I can even release my expectation to enjoy and be energized by my work. It’s okay to invest in imperfect places and work does not have to fuel my soul. (after all they call it work not vacation) While I’d love to be perfectly aligned with my gifts and passions I am simply not in that place. This too is okay and I need not stand in shame here.

I will stay awake to my desires and passions and not ignore how I am wired. But I will also continue to get up and go to work and be as present as I can for ten hours of face to face people problem solving. This type of adjusting and embracing of my life and caring for my heart while not living my dream is a wonderful growth opportunity. It’s changed me and is changing me and this in itself is rewarding.

I have not totally given up on my little cabin in the woods idea. Likely I am idealizing the writing profession in the same way I underestimated the demands of therapy.

Effective therapy requires tons of listening, demonstrating empathy, hand-holding, cheer-leading and back patting. All actions I don’t naturally excel in. But guess what? Making peace with my career has grown those skills exponentially more than a lonely little cabin would have. Perhaps here lies the wisdom in embracing the imperfect, weary path with gratitude.

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4 Replies

  1. Stephanie

    Beautifully said friend!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks friend! ❤️

  2. Debbie Jenne

    Thanks for your refreshing words. I can connect. Reminded me of the saying: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain”. Making the best of the mundane, not so challenging or even overwhelming up-against-a-wall bits of life. These often host little gems waiting to be discovered 😉 😉

    1. Astrid Melton

      So true. The only thing we are stuck w/ I most situations is our attitude. Xoxo

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