If I handed a prospective employer my resume, I have a feeling some eyebrows would be raised and immediately the tone of our engagement would be overflowing with skepticism.
Why did I leave my job in Vermont after only five months? More importantly, why did I leave my recent job after just six months?
Both of those jobs were within my field of human services, a field that I spent a lot of time (and a decent amount of money) on my education so that I would be prepared enough to follow my professional path.
Both of those jobs gave me so much experience and knowledge in navigating the health care system and mental health treatment.
Both of those jobs were not what I wanted, and that should be enough of an explanation. However, I’ll offer more reasoning because it feels like my peers in this awkward age range of mid-twenties have too much pressure to be following the “right” path into adulthood.
As children, we are taught that school and education are the most important because we will learn the skills to be successful in life. Don’t get me wrong, education is so important, but that education does not necessarily have to come from a textbook or hours of studying, just for the sake of memorizing the correct answers. There is a time and a place for right and wrong answers, but life and reality aren’t that cut-and-dry.
I thought that if I did okay in school, went to college and got a degree, I would be fine and content with my career. But early on, I found that memorizing facts weren’t going to make me happy or successful. I enjoy challenging the “status quo” and love to see a problem from different perspectives so that I can approach a solution in the best way. Sometimes that means getting creative with my problem-solving.
Most of the time, though, others don’t take too well to changing up the way things have always been done.
So, yes, I see that hopping from job to job doesn’t look great on a resume, and I can agree that my recent professional endeavors don’t really reflect my level of commitment.
I have decided to put my happiness and sanity first and that commitment to myself is always going to be so much more important than showing that I remained complacent in a position that already started to push me to an early burnout.
If I can’t take care of myself and put my personal happiness first, then how would I ever be able to connect with a client and help them with similar issues?
The Vermont job was great to make a connection with the residents, and I was fully introduced to a population I had never worked with before, and thoroughly enjoyed working with. Except, I felt like I couldn’t reach my full potential there and driving one hour, one way, got real old, real fast.
My recent job that I left was beneficial in its own way. I felt much more involved in the community and felt like I was actually making a difference with some of my clients.
I talked to them like human beings, I set my expectations with them from the beginning, and I also remained understanding when the expectations weren’t met. I understood that these were people, who had to deal with their chronic mental illnesses, are not weak, helpless individuals that could not manage their mental illnesses.
There is a huge difference.
I had an issue with the jadedness within the agencies.
Typically, any creative, critical thinking was shot down because it was deemed unsuccessful (before even trying) or too much of a financial risk. I understand that agencies need to be run like businesses because, unfortunately, the money that comes in is what keeps critical programs going. However, instead of an equal or, even decent, ratio of resources distributed to benefit the clients, the energy and attention are put toward the dollars and cents.
If you focus only on one aspect of an equation, the surrounding information is unaccounted for and the problem will remain unsolved.
I decided to take myself out of that equation because I realized my own mental health was in danger. I didn’t want to be viewed as a failure and continued to convince myself I could be happy in this field but decided that my stubbornness wasn’t worth this fight.
Thankfully, I was given a chance to work at an up-and-coming, local, coffee shop that motivated me to choose my personal happiness and focus on what I really want to be pursuing. Since working in an environment that I enjoy has allowed me to focus more on my creativity and researching anything that interests me.
Yesterday, I was able to actually put some time into doing something creative and different.
My brother and I collaborated to bring a vision of mine to life, which was to photograph various coffee drinks, in various forms.
I know I made the right decision to step outside of my professional field and go back to something I enjoy. The coffee shop atmosphere offers so much more for me than some people realize, and if this is the environment I thrive in, then who is to say I am successful or not?
I do know that the field of mental health needs to change, and I know that I am still determined to be part of that change, even if I don’t follow the conventional path.
So, on paper maybe I don’t seem to be the ideal candidate for another position within the mental health field. But, my experiences shouldn’t define my success, and I have come to terms with that. As long as I feel good about my decisions, I think I’ll be okay.