In the New Year of 2021, I began my graduate program of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Mental Health Counseling was something I was fairly new to but also not new in small ways. By this point I had books on my bookshelf to make one believe I was a therapist (book recommendations from therapists can be helpful!). I was nervous for my first day and nervous for the future simultaneously. Already working a full time job along with school and after some time, internship, I knew I was about to be busier than I am used to. I didn’t have a concrete plan on how I was going to make it all work but I knew that was going to and there was not another option (especially when that first tuition payment hit my bank account). Comparing this program’s content with Business, Accounting, Engineering or another Master’s level program, none spoke out to me like Mental Health Counseling had. After a few months of the program, I knew that I really enjoyed classes and was starting to get to know others in my cohort. From different backgrounds and personalities, they were slowly starting to become people I wanted to spend more “free” time with. In my personal life I was learning to be a better friend, sister and daughter and would spend limited time catching up or having fun sleepovers with my niece and nephew and that would bring me such true joy and help to get back to the work week that was ahead.
By the time the internship began a year later, it was definitely a stressful time since it now meant a new schedule with work and this program overall. It meant from 8:30am-5:00pm was my work schedule, 6-8pm was internship. Which was a change because prior to that my schedule included 3 hours of lecture Tuesdays and Thursdays nights after work, not including an almost two hour each way of driving time from work, school and home.
So now fast forward to graduating from a program where I’ve made inspiring friends, passionate colleagues as well as an education that can be truly supportive and impactful to clients lives and my life. As I write this, there is definitely a Carrie Bradshaw moment of “was it all worth it” and I really like to say that it was. Not for having a new career I can use but more importantly, because of what I know now and the changes I have made in order to feel better. Having a community that I can develop more friendships and connections with, can work alongside with all while knowing that several of us have the good intention of helping others that are in need. That is exactly what I wanted, to help those that were in need and work with others that have the same aspirations.
So what will I do now with all this time? Great question. You’d think by this point I’d be a master of time management and we both would be greatly mistaken but cheers to just relaxing.
Now if you find yourself in a time where everything feels important and your calendar is packed, here are some things I’ve learned from these last 2 1/2 years that might be helpful in terms of boundaries and basic needs.
- Time passes fast, make sure to take the time to breathe in and exhale deeply
- Saying No can be a full sentence
- Spend time with those that leave you with energy and joy
- Relaxing does not mean dissociation
- Ask questions and ask for help, we weren’t built to do it alone, we thrive in communities
- Listen to what your body needs- (water, movement, connection, emotions… etc.)
- If you have a big enough animal at home, give them good squeezes because they miss you too (shout out to Charlie, incoming for another squeeze in less than 5 seconds