A College Story
This post is not finished yet, but I want to publish what I have so far.
For my entire life, I have been surrounded by people with mental illness. My younger brother was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, my father with bipolar disorder, and my mother with depression; I have had close friends with eating disorders and other self harming behaviors. As a child, I watched my mother spend hours upon hours struggling with my brother, and helping him work through everyday activities that were difficult for him. As I grew older, my mother became more frustrated and tired, and seemed to give up more easily when the going got rough. I often found myself seeking solutions to the communication problems between my mother and brother, and I have felt a great sense of purpose because of it. During high school, my parents had some domestic issues and I found myself in a frightening and unpleasant position. The court assigned counselors to visit my siblings and me at home to help us make sense of the situation, and I wondered to myself if I could do their job. My parents hugely benefited from marriage counseling and eventually managed to share a pleasant life together. I did not know it then, but it was those experiences that would ultimately influence my career path.
I was just shy of eighteen when I began my first semester at Kent State University, and to be honest, I did not know why I was even there. College was not fun for me, and going to class every day was on the same level as getting a tooth pulled. I think I only went because I knew my mother would be furious if I did not. I was in the pre-med program, and decided to take general psychology as an elective class. It turned out that I quite enjoyed learning about the mind and all of its wonders. During my sophomore year, I decided to drop the pre-med course-load and declared a major in psychology.
Despite my growing interest in my schoolwork, I was not very focused for most of my undergraduate career. Juggling between work, school, and a difficult home life took its toll on me. However, I decided that my education was important, and that if I was going to get where I wanted to be, I would have to make some serious changes. By this time, I was already in junior standing and only had a couple semesters left before I would have a degree. It was not much time to mend the damage I had done to my GPA. I scheduled a meeting with an advisor and was told that my chances of getting into a graduate psychology program were slim to none, even if I did well during my last few semesters. At that point, I decided I was done with psychology. All anyone ever talked about was research, data correlations, validity, and standard deviation. I wanted to talk to people, to find out what causes them pain, and to help them find comfort from it. I realized that I had known what I wanted to do for quite some time; I had just chosen the wrong program for my professional goals. The classes that interested me the most were psychological interventions, the sociology of mental illness, and adolescent psychology; those classes were about people- not statistics, chemicals, or memory.
My interest in human emotion and my eagerness to help those who are troubled often seeped into my work life at Lowe’s. I often found myself talking with customers about personal issues just as much as I talked with them about which weed killer to purchase. I liked listening to them, and I liked offering a fresh perspective to anyone who was willing to hear one. Because of my desire to help people during difficult times, I decided to look into some volunteer positions. I ended up taking a volunteer position at Robinson Memorial Hospital at the main lobby information desk. I thought it would be the perfect place for me to talk to the friends and families of patients who may be plagued by a worried conscious; and from time to time the opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately, most people who enter the lobby ask for a room number and quickly disappear into a nearby elevator. During down time I began chatting with the transporting volunteer, Ashley, who sits with me behind the desk. She is a 17 year old junior in high school who is a cheerleader and quite popular. She is very much the opposite of my high school self. Despite these differences, I came to learn that we had a lot in common, especially when it came to relationships. Ashley began seeking my advice, and after some time, I came to realize that many of the things she did and spoke about were perfectly in line with my studies in adolescent psychology. It was at this point that I realized that I wanted to focus my concentration on adolescents and young adults.
I am open-minded about the future, and hope to have the opportunity to work in various settings ranging from community based agencies to private clinical meetings. Ideally, I would like to work with persons between the ages of twelve and twenty-two who are experiencing emotional difficulties. My goal is to be able to diagnose and treat these individuals to help them lead happy and successful lives. Having a degree in clinical mental health counseling will lay the foundation for these goals because it will teach me the fundamental skills I will need to earn a license in professional counseling and professional clinical counseling.