Transition Diaries Entry #1028: New Chapter

It is time to turn the page.

Today, I started work with an organization helping children who have been abused, orphaned, or exploited. I am tasked to help manage the psychological care for these kids, who currently number to a little over a hundred.

Naturally, I am terrified.

As you may know, I have been working in the academe for over two years now. I have never been out in the field dealing with actual clients needing psychological intervention, save for my experience as a nursing student on duty at a mental health unit. I have taken graduate school classes and have been to some trainings related to providing psychosocial care, but I’ve never actually taken on the kind of responsibility I’m about to assume in this next phase of my life.

The people around me seem to have more faith in my capacity to see this job through than I have in my own self, and I am quite sure this is less about humility and more about cowardice on my part. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was hell-bent on finding an opportunity exactly like the one I’ve stumbled on, and now that it is right in front me, I want to slap myself for having second thoughts about whether or not I am ready, whether or not I have what it takes, whether or not it really is the right time. You crazy girl, just do it.

As I start this new chapter in my life, I want to speak out to all other people also currently in the process of chasing their dreams, transitioning through a career change, or looking for their niche in the world. Thus far I have learned three main things going through this journey, and I want to share them with you. I hope they get to help you as you go through your own journey, too.

1. You will need to have the ability to learn as you go along.

I keep telling my students that school is really less about memorizing specific lessons taken up in class and more about honing the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Because out there in the real world, no one will need you to parrot things everyone can just search Google for. You will be required, rather, to know how to process and sift through information, and to think critically and creatively about things. You will not always know the answers to things, but you should be able to figure out how to arrive at the answer.

Thus, as you walk along the path to realizing your dreams, make sure you bring with you a load of initiative, a pocketful of resourcefulness, and a dash of humility. No one starts out an expert, but if you are willing to listen and open to learn, you’ll get there.

2. You will have to fight, tooth and nail, to get to where you want to go.

The use of the word ‘fight’ in the line ‘fight for your dreams’ is by no means coincidental. On the way to becoming the person you envision to be, you will have to make difficult decisions (which is usually code for decisions that are bound to disappoint other people, even people you love and who mean to you a lot). You may have to break a few rules along the way, and you may have to risk things that matter to you. If you do not have the heart and the conviction to follow your passion, you are bound to falter along the way.

3. You will learn what the word sacrifice really means.

I have a necklace that says “live free.” I usually wear it when I feel stifled or suffocated by the circumstances. I am a lover of freedom, but I have also learned to temper my need for it. I have come to learn that freedom has a very large price in this world; no matter how much you want to be truly free, the general adulting process will teach you that you are still bound by certain responsibilities. And so you learn to compromise, and to sacrifice.

Andrew Matthews said that when people say they cannot do something, what they really mean is there are things they are not willing to do in order to get that something done. I think it’s a very insightful statement. If I say I cannot hold a full-time teaching job while working part-time in clinical psychology, what I’m really saying is I’m not willing to work 6 days a week and I’m not willing to sacrifice a couple more hours of sleep and a decent social life in the next couple of months.

But the thing is, I am willing to do those things.

The things I have waited to happen for so long are here now, and this is no time to give up the fight. I am seeing this through, no matter what it takes.

I am turning the page
And I am finding it blank
I’m not sure I know what to write
But I will dare to give it a shot.

• ♠ •

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