I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer. Most of the time. As a child, I was a rule follower…almost to a fault. Terrified of punishment, always seeking approval, wanting to obey for the sake of maintaining order. Teachers loved me because I was a great kiss ass. My parents always knew they could count on me to fall in line and be respectful and responsible. But rule following turned out to be more of a phase of life than a standard to live by.
As an adult, I’ve become a bit more rebellious. I don’t always adhere to authority. And I’m deviating more and more from the “norm.” I admit, there’s a lot of comfort in going with the flow of the majority. Typically, you know where you stand, what you believe, and where you’re going…because you’re likely following the crowd. You have friends to talk about life with…because you can all relate to each other. You’re sharing the experiences. In many ways, when you choose to live differently from the accepted norm, you abandon or lose some of the friendships and relationships you’ve cultivated.
Being atypical is lonely. I spend a lot of time frustrated about the loneliness. I miss being part of the collective.
I’m currently at the end of graduate school. At the conclusion of this adventure in debt acquisition, I’ll have a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Makes me sound all official, doesn’t it? But truthfully, I could give a shit less. Because I’m not a “clinical mental health counselor.” I don’t fit into their mold or ideology of what a therapist should be. I didn’t fit in the mold before I enrolled. It’s a little humorous when I tell fellow classmates that I really don’t care to be state licensed, endure the national exam, or sit for hours and hours in a tiny room listening to people bitch about their problems. I didn’t start grad school and sacrifice years of employment, socialization, and reading GOOD books to learn how fucked up Freud really was. I wanted to learn how to relate to people better, how to manage ethical dilemmas, and generally how to understand behaviors of people experiencing distress. I’ve spent almost three years being taught how to be a compassionate human. I really could have saved myself the $90,000 loan. But the investment isn’t entirely in vain. If anything, I’ve learned more about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve also learned who I’m NOT.
I’m not society’s version of a therapist. I’m a conversationalist. I dialogue with people. I listen to their stories. And sometimes, I give them strategies for how to journey through life with a little dignity. And when dignity can’t be found, I give them a bat and tell them to break shit until they feel better (as long as they break objects and not people or animals…I’m not THAT delusional).
Ultimately, I think we all want to tell our stories…and more than that, we want to be heard and feel validated. It doesn’t take years and years of reading psychosocial theories to learn how to love people where they are. Or at least it shouldn’t.
I’m never going to be who they think I should be. I’m going to be myself. H…who talks to people in the language they relate to.