Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a psychologist. I was filled with dreams of some day owning an office in which clients would lay upon a couch revealing to me their deepest concerns while I scribbling down notes uttering an occasional, “And how does that make you feel?”
Born and raised in Fairway, Kansas I got my under-graduate degree in psychology from The University of Kansas. Still determined to become a therapist I started off by getting my masters degree in mental health counseling from The University of Missouri-Kansas City. (I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the work before I jumped off the deep-end into a PhD program). Through out these 7 years of school I worked in various mental health and psychological research settings. I worked in a cognitive neuroscience lab conducting ERP studies, collected research data on the effects of stress, I volunteered to work with children who had been subjected to physical violence, I worked at a women’s abuse shelter, I conducted suicidal assessments at a mental health hospital, I spent a year in a community counseling center working with a variety of clients, and I worked for a recovery center where I counseled individuals who were court mandated to attend counseling. Needless to say I did it all and discovered that counseling was not for me.
However, I was still in LOVE with the field of psychology and the surrounding clinical research, so I shifted my career path to psychological research.
Upon graduation from my masters program I decided I needed a change and so I packed up my life in a small U-haul and moved to Nashville, TN. At the time I had no job and very little money, I just knew that Nashville was where I wanted to be. (I’ve always been a sucker for southern accents and men in cowboy boots).
After a few jobless months I finally landed a job as a research analyst II at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where I worked on a number of different studies, which mainly focused on long-term neuropsychological, functional, quality of life, and mental health outcomes. Basically, I met with patients in the ICU and conducted a series of neuropsychological and executive functioning assessments. As time went on I also got involved in a rehabilitation study, a fish oil supplementation and cognitive outcomes post cardiac surgery study, and PTSD assessments. I loved my job and at this point I was convinced that research, more specifically cognitive neuroscience research, was what I wanted to do with my life.
Back for more school….
I was fortunate enough that I was one of three students accepted into an experimental psychology program at a major university in Chicago, IL. While I was going to miss Nashville ( to this day I still terribly miss this wonderful city) I once again packed up my belongings and headed to the city. I started my first year as a PhD student and graduate research assistant in an emotion and cognition lab in the summer of 2011. The first year passed with only a few minor bumps, but the summer of 2012 is when my life would begin to dramatically change.
To make a long story short, the professor I was assigned to work under turned out to be not only a horrible mentor, but a horrible human being in general, making my daily life a living hell. It was like all of a sudden one day his attitude toward me did a complete 180 and he now hated me. He stopped involving me in lab projects, I was shut out of meetings, he talked poorly about me to other students, and even when I asked repeatedly never gave me any help. I was basically stuck in the deep end with no flotation device. Going to the head of our department for help and to request to work with another professor did no good, in fact it only mad matters worse.
In the end he knew that I had complained about him and I was basically given the option of leaving on my own, or he would find some way to get rid of me. I chose to to leave because I did not want to be associated in any way with someone who would treat someone so terribly (I should note that I was not the only one he tormented) and I sure as hell didn’t want to be part of a program that did not support its students. So after completing all of my required classes and collecting all of the data I needed to complete my thesis, btw I only had one more year left in the program, I walked away from the dream I had had almost all of my life with only a shit ton of student loans.
Here in-lies the “Why are you so Ugly?”
Sometimes the world can be an ugly and cruel place. I spent a long time after that being depressed and unsure of what to do with my life. I knew I no longer wanted to be a professor, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to researching either. Over the next few months I begrudgingly applied to what felt like a thousand different jobs, slept, and cried. I cried a lot. I was crushed, confused, and most of all angry. I was very, very ANGRY.
After what seemed like an eternity of casting out a line with no return, I eventually got a bite. Somehow I stumbled into a position of content writer for a healthcare company where I write all of the website content for all of the mental health facilities that they own. Honestly, in my wildest dreams I would have never thought I would have become a writer. Through a life time of schooling I wrote many papers along the way, some of them have even been published, but writing as my job never crossed my mind.
Today I am happy to say that I am now the content coordinator of that same company where I continue to write website content, mental health blogs, and other clinical information. I have also started working on some freelance writing on the side and am the copyright editor for an organization I belong to. Best of all I have gotten to combine my love of psychology with my newly discovered talent of writing. Today my new goal for the future is to be able to work for myself doing lots of freelance writing and editing projects, a job that will allow me to travel the world at the same time. (Another thing I have always wanted to do).
Yes, at times the world may be an ugly place, but if I hadn’t gone through that terrible experience I wouldn’t be where I am today. While at times I still get angry about what happened I am thankful that I have found my new passion in life and that I am doing something I truly love. I have found my beauty a midst an ugly situation.
So here I am, starting down a new life path. While I am sure that I will encounter some ugly along the way, I know that in the end the good outweighs the bad.