A little inspirational rap anyone? I've had the lyrics to that little chorus by rapper NAS in my head the last few days, and with all the pondering I've been doing lately, part of what I'm pondering about is whether those lyrics are still true for me. I still feel like I'm figuring out what I want to be "when I grow up", and like there's still time for me! But so much of the challenge for me has come down to--well what DO I want to be? Where should I put my efforts? Time? Energy? MONEY?
I have a great amount of loyalty to the company I work for presently. I worked here right out of college, and they treated me well. After pursuing some other options, they supported me while I was on mission in Sarajevo. They supported Jason, too! And when I returned, they took me back on! I've now been promoted to what I'd say is middle-management, and they continue to be one of the most supportive environments I've worked for. However, I just don't care a thing about being a Probation Officer. There isn't really anywhere to go from here, and if I'm still in this same office and at this same desk with these same clients in 10 years, I know I'm not going to be happy about it. Heck, if I'm here in 5 years, it won't hold any meaning for me. It'll be a good job, for a good company. But that's where it ends. So what is it for me?
Growing up I was just sure that I wanted to be a Psychologist... maybe along the lines of a Christian counselor. I watched shows like Frasier, who was a shrink. I worked a summer with my Psychologist uncle in his clinic in Chicago helping with filing and billing. I majored in Psychology at Mercer University, and loved my classes. I've applied for graduate studies twice--with rejection letters right out of school, an acceptance to North Georgia, but I wasn't able to afford to start classes at the time. But now that I'm out here in the workforce already a little, I'm having second thoughts. I primarily work with the "delinquent" population presently--the alcoholics, drug addicts, and wife beaters. And I know the biggest need for mental health workers comes in the form of group therapy for those demographics, or of serious mental illnesses, the type that require corrective medication, hospitalization, etc. And to be honest--that's not what I'm interested in. I wanted to help people like ME, to deal with their issues and hang ups, to experience freedom, and to see change happen in their lives. I just don't think there's a big market for clients like me, and am not entirely sure where that path would take me.
I also spend a lot of time now in the courthouse or courtroom, preparing for, watching, or participating in court proceedings. I was especially involved when I was with the Public Defender's Office, working as an investigator. Basically I was digging up facts, witnesses, and interviews, to find out "the rest of the story", and helping build court cases for trial. Or to plead out, when it turned out the facts were pretty clearly against our clients! And I really loved that job! I loved that environment. I loved the challenge, and the excitement of trial--seeing how things played out. But if I were to go back there, I'd be just as stuck as I am at my present job--mid level, no advancement opportunities, doing the same thing for the next 20 years. In order to really get into the action, I'd need to go to law school and become a practicing attorney, as opposed to someone behind the scenes putting things together for someone else to use. And as much as I like that environment and the excitement, I don't really want to be an attorney. I see it as a bit unstable: you win or you lose. You recruit clients and cases or you don't. You're out there on your own trying to win cases, with seeming little support. I wouldn't mind being a Judge! :) But although I've thought about it, I don't think I'm actually interested in being an attorney, or in the path it would take to get me there.
So that path is eliminated. And I wonder what's left for me. Where would I really like to go to work each day? What environment would I really feel free in, and what population would I really like to invest myself in? And one option that has risen to the top now is to become a Spanish teacher. Perhaps in high school, but perhaps even one day at a college or university! I majored in Psychology, but I also majored in Spanish. I studied for a few months in Spain, and I speak Spanish with my clients on a daily basis at my job here. I'm not sure I'm good enough to be an interpreter, like at the courthouse. But you know what they say--those who can't do, teach. And I think it would be a HOOT to be a Spanish teacher! I most certainly would be kooky and make class fun and easy to be successful at, and hopefully I'd be able to inspire some students for a love of the language, culture and people the way it's been instilled in me. Because I really do have a love of those things and those people. Besides--could you beat the schedule and benefits?
I don't exactly know what it would take for me to get from here to there. I have a degree, but not in education. I know I'll have to take the GACE certification test, but even something as simple as taking a test to open a door is scary and intimidating to me right now. What if I don't pass!? (The obvious answer is, well, then you don't pass. Nothing lost!) But still, intimidated.
I just sometimes feel like I have a hunger inside me for something more. For passion, for achievement, for life! I don't want to settle. But as a still young person choosing what path I want my life to follow, I know there's time, but it still feels so big and scary to actually pick a dream or a goal and really go for it.
I know I can be what I wanna be. If I work hard at it, I'll be where I wanna be. Those words could still be true for me. I could choose a dramatic change, I could really go for it and pursue it. And pursue it, and pursue it, until I was able to make it happen. In fact, I'd think it was a dream come true to be a Spanish professor in a college somewhere. But what do I have to do to get from here to there? #1 is not be too scared to do anything. #2 is to identify what small achievable steps I can take in the short run. And then I think #3 is to go for it!
There's a proverb that goes something like "the plans of a man are in his heart, but his steps belong to the Lord." God has put me exactly where I am right now, with closed doors along the way, and perhaps an open door yet in front of me. Lord, I want to go for it! I admit that I'm scared! But help me to live the fullness of life that I potentially have in front of me!