From Secretary to Psychologist
Like many people, I grew up believing things about myself that simply weren’t true, things that I’d been told by adults in my life. One of the messages that I’d learned to believe without question was that I wasn’t smart enough to go to college. As my friends were applying to colleges and universities, I tried to figure out my place in the world.
I was also told – and believed – that careers for women were limited. We could be nurses, teachers, or secretaries, and since I clearly was not college bound, two of those three options were out. I learned and accepted that my lot in life was to become a secretary, and quite frankly, I was fine with that choice.
And Then Something Happened…
…Something unexpected, something that would change the course of my life forever.
It was my senior year of high school, and I was sitting in the back of a classroom, and Mrs. Kiggins introduced the class to the field of psychology. Now I have to apologize to Mrs. Kiggins, because I honestly have no recollection of which class I was in or why I was in it, but it changed my life. So whatever the reason, I am truly grateful I was there.
As Mrs. Kiggins talked about psychology, I knew with as much certainty as I knew my own name that the entire field of psychology was created just for me, just so I could become a psychologist. That day, I became completely mesmerized by the study of human behavior and am happy to say that I still am today. I’m not sure that I could ever adequately explain what it feels like the moment you realize why you were put on this earth, when you realize what you were meant to do, but I know I had that feeling that day.
But there was a problem…that’s right, if I wasn’t smart enough to go to college to become a nurse or a teacher, how on earth would I ever become a psychologist?
After high school, I got a job working as a secretary, but burning deep in the pit of my stomach and in the recesses of my brain was the dream that I would become a psychologist. For the next six years while fulfilling my secretarial duties, I studied and read everything I could get my hands on to learn more about psychology and the wonders of human behavior. I read and studied and studied and read, soaking it all in, constantly wanting more.
Then I Did the Unthinkable…
…I applied to college! I actually applied to several schools just in case my first choice agreed with the message I’d carried around for so long about not being all that bright. I didn’t tell anyone what I had done, because I didn’t want the embarrassment that would come if I really did discover that I wasn’t smart enough for college.
And Then the Truly Remarkable Happened…
…I was accepted not to just one school but to three! I still get emotional thinking about the feeling of knowing that my dream to become a psychologist was coming true. I then had the difficult task of telling my mother that I was going to go to college to become a psychologist, because she was the one who always told me I wasn’t smart enough to go. I think that conversation was one of the hardest I’ve ever had. I knew I didn’t have her support and in fact, would probably face open opposition to my plans, but I also knew that someday I would wake up, my mother would be dead, and I would have spent my entire life living it the way she wanted me to live it. I couldn’t risk missing the chance to live my dreams.
There were many, many days that I wanted to give up, to throw in the towel, to admit that I was just dreaming and was ready to get back to reality and do something that wasn’t as hard, something that was more practical. But I know that those times were brought about by frustration, anxiety, and fatigue. I remained true to my dreams, and eventually finished school.
It’s been more than 25 years since I took a stand and defended my dreams. These are the lessons I learned along the way, and I try to remain true to them each day:
- This is my life. I must take full responsibility for living it each and every day. If I don’t like something in my life, it’s my job to fix it.
- Dreams aren’t only worth having, they are worth living!
- Success cannot be achieved alone. Surrounding myself with empowering people always makes the journey easier.
- It is always okay to want more, do more, and be more.
- Remaining true to myself has always been the best compass, because not everyone has my best interests in mind, and that’s okay.
Life’s a journey, and mine has been filled with amazing rewards, one of which has been to help other people on their life’s journey. I hope that wherever you are in life right now, you are where you want to be, and if for some reason you’ve gotten off course or lost your way, know that I am here to help.