In 2015 I decided to stop playing small.
For the first time in a long time I took a huge life shifting risk.
I moved back to my hometown to finish my Bachelor’s in a field I’m truly passionate about and decided to commit to getting my master’s degree as well.
It’s surreal. Leaving the safe “could have made 6 figures eventually” and “everyone loved me” type of set up at my old job. I really enjoyed my job and was good at it! More importantly, I loved the incredible people I was privileged to work with. And I left this for what, you ask? Well, to move to a troubled city, return to my loving but demanding family, and see friends I felt I no longer knew.
I had a life that was comfortable before this. A good job, great friends, dinner parities and people to celebrate achievements with. I had memories of familiar places and a lot of firsts. But I hit a plateau. I couldn’t move forward in the way that meant most to me. So I took the time to unplug, analyze, trust my gut and plan a huge change.
I decided I needed to finish my degree and complete graduate school for the purpose to working in my chosen field. Not for looks or brags – but to truly do the work I dreamed of.
My move in summer 2015 back to Baltimore was a rough transition. Bright sunny Texas was replaced with less lush streets laden with potholes and litter. Switching majors pushed me further away from graduation. And even though I was earning A’s in every class (for the first time ever!)… I was a 27 year old returning student who was studying alongside teenagers; kids who never worked and knew little about their surrounding world. Returning to school full time after working, paying my own bills, and living alone was… well, quite humbling.
I felt old. I felt insecure. I felt invisible and I was hard on myself because I knew these negative perceptions clouded to great opportunity I chased in moving back. During this time – my personal growth was evident. Upon the first week of moving back I found out my arranged job opportunity had fizzled. So I did what any responsible adult would do: waited until the last possible minute to stalk indeed.com and craigslist at 2am. There I found a few “This is my DREAM but don’t have the credentials” type jobs… but went for them anyway.
In September I started working during school as a PRP (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program) Counselor for a local agency in Baltimore City. I love my work. I’ve been the “go to” girl for life advice for years and have encouraged and coached friends, relatives, partners, co-workers, the list goes on. I took immense joy in mentoring for Big Brother Big Sister and always stayed up on research in psychology and public policy. However this was my first experience counseling in a professional 1-on-1 setting. Heart wrenching stories of failures and triumphs provided context to the people and communities that once depressed me. I started to realize Baltimore wasn’t a city of failures- but really a collection of survivors. Tough, gritty, real life survivors. I learned to face the things I ran from; the crime rate, drug use, poverty alongside my clients. Things I left behind for the sunnier side of life in Texas. And I am loving every minute of it.
I got a great start on 2016 by beginning the process of working toward my dream in 2015. Who knows what’s in store for the rest of this year but I know I’m ready to grab every opportunity with confidence and grace.
Cheers to a happier world for both you and me!