I finally know what I want to do with my [work] life

Lately in my church we’ve been doing a series called “Trusting God with…” and one thing I’ve started wrestling with in regards to this series is work.
I love what I do, and yet I have 3 things on my plate as to what I want to with my work life:
1) Youth ministry
2) Social services, working with those who live with mental illness
3) I’m not sure what the job title would be, but I like what The Marin Foundation does, so something along the lines of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

But I have made peace and I’m reading to move forward into…*drum roll* 🙂

I’m going to continue on in Social Services, working with individuals who have mental illnesses.
I’ve crossed the threshold of 2 years doing just that, and I like it, but the issue I have is that Illinois is ranked near the bottom (48 out of 51) when it comes to supporting those who need Social Services and funding (pay-wise) those who work jobs in Social Services, but still I am going to give IL a little more time and here’s why.

My annual review will be coming up soon and I’m putting together a proposal as to how my agency can return to a more client-centric approach in how they do things. I’m also putting together a book, a self-help book on mental illness and yet I realize that the general population will benefit from learning what I have learned, that (hopefully) the stigma of individuals living with mental illness will be decreased.

But despite all that, if I’m not able to prove my worth in this manner among other things, I’m starting to look elsewhere. I’m looking back to Memphis TN and see what’s available in this field that has proven to be the most stressful, most tiring, most emotionally jarring job I’ve ever had…but it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done job-wise. People are people, and this is how I want to invest my work life.

Part of my game plan does include going back to school, Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling. So maybe Illinois is where I’ll be, but then again Memphis appeals to me as well for many a reason. I fell in love with the people and that city when I was on vacation, good old “southern hospitality” is what I experienced wherever I went. Plus now that there’s a branch of The Marin Foundation being run by Jimmy Cornfoot I’ll still be able to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Happy 2 years on the job to me – 17/28

(The prompt of “faking it” could not be any more timely.)

Today marks my 2nd year on the job. I am a Mental Health Professional and I work with individuals who have different types of mental illnesses, and 2 years ago my bro Alex informed me of the position and I applied, interviewed, and was hired.

I love what I do, but I recall 2 years ago it was difficult. I think the difficulty lay in the fact that I was clearly “new guy on the job” to Staff and Clients alike, my shadowing in that time frame when I could not work alone was awkward and seemed like canned conversations with my Clients. Subsequently when I learned the ropes I faked it (fact: I no longer DO!) until I made it. I faked it because I was scared about the ramifications of screwing up, after all I am in the business of working with people and I want to do right by them. I faked it for a season, but thankfully I overcame the hump of being a newbie.

Making it came in the form of being able to work on my own, building rapport with my Clients, and delving into deeper conversational waters. I won’t divulge anything I’ve talked to my Clients about here as that is unethical and could cost me my job. I will say this though, in my 2 years of working on this job it has been the most stressful, most demanding, most tiring job I have ever had…but it is also the most rewarding.

I’ve always had a knack of helping out people; whether in the form of tangible hands-on help, or simply by listening to them, and perhaps even listening to what’s really being communicated instead of just the words (you can’t bullshit a former bullshitter). Interestingly enough my parents were in this line of work and with the same company some 30 odd years ago, so there was never the stigma that gets put on people who have disabilities. People are people, and that’s all there is to it.

I’ve come to realize that in my line of work there is a symbiotic relationship between all of my Clients and myself; that in my helping them, they help me, in my sharing with them, they share with me, and so on. I am grateful for this happening and it lifts my spirit.
I also realize that there is a breakdown of the Us versus Them paradigm, that only WE exist; yes there are some gaps that separate us, and I won’t ever have firsthand knowledge of what mental illness is like, but rather the after-effects of having a mental illness. Yet like I said before, people are people.

***

I’ve come to the realization that I want to give of myself more to working with those with mental illness. I’ve started this by way of starting an eBook about mental illness; initially it was going to be along the lines of Zen Koans, but I’m revising it and rethinking it over and at this point it will probably be giving recently diagnosed individuals hope in light of having a mental illness. As far as I’m concerned, being formally diagnosed doesn’t have to be an ending but rather a beginning.

I’m also giving thought to writing a proposal for my work, to return to a model that is more client-centric than it currently is now. It might be too much at one time, but certainly some parts of what I want to cover can be implemented over time.

I also realize this is a field I want to be a part of. Granted I realize I want to further my education (Master’s degree in Psychology, emphasis Counseling) but I have come to the conclusion I want to give my work-life to this field. It’s a difficult task, and I know that well despite being only 2 years in, but I am ready and determined to do so.

~Nathanael~