career / Work

WDEP: The Counseling Fundamentalist

The danger in being a former fundamentalist, is the ease in which I can fall into the trap of doing anything to an extreme. Like trying to figure out my career path all in one sitting. Leaving WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) and instead rushing headlong into WDEP (What do you want? What are you doing? Evaluation of how it’s working. What is the plan?). With fervor I ruminate on the question, “what do I want? WHAT DO I WANT?” as if the answer will come magically. And then, once I know what I want, I’ll be able to make a plan.

This question kept echoing in my mind last night, as I drove home from a shitty day at the ‘office.’ This week has been rough, moving out of my spacious office and into a cubicle with zero privacy. How am I supposed to meet with students confidentially when I can hear the person typing on the other side of the wall? It’s terrible. And embarrassing for the program. It’s a metaphor for how our department can’t quite get their shit together, so a Master’s level clinician is squatting behind an ancient desk crammed into cardboard walls.

It’s not about the cubicle.

Every other job I’ve worked at has had cubicles and I’ve thought nothing of it. It’s the fact that at our college, the cubicles are reserved for the students, the ‘help’ and are definitely not up to par as far as inviting a student to share about their personal problems. It’s about the fact that the dysfunction at the higher ed level extends from my director and supervisor all the way up to the lawmakers who are passing these shitty laws that impede students from getting the education that they want.

And so, in complete and utter panic, I’ve been googling job openings like gasping for breath, then panicking even more when there’s literally nothing out there. But that’s not really the case. There’s nothing I’d want to take. There are plenty of case manager jobs out there for 38,000 a year, but the hard part about being where I am, is that I’m adult enough to weigh all the benefits and every damn time I come up with: my job is the best.

But I keep asking myself, what do I want to do?

Not just, “what do I want to do,” for work, but more like…who do I want to be? Someone who is underutilized at my current job, and notice all of the dysfunction around me. If I turn off that part of myself, head down, teach my class, follow orders (and kill my soul in the process), I feel relatively blissed out at my job. 8.5 months of the year. I don’t work Fridays. A lot of autonomy and creativity. Some normal frustration with student personalities, but overall I really really love it.

So why do I want to quit all the time?

Why do I have fantasies of writing books, articles, starting a podcast, travelling the world, and changing people’s lives when I know that I don’t actually have the balls to step out and live a life of creative poverty (partially because I like my house, and my child, and drinking coffee). I think I put too much pressure on myself. I think that because I have insight and know these skills/tools, that I have to use them all the time. How can I make a living off the dilettante lifestyle? I’m so tired of getting sucked into the office bitch-fest. I’m so tired of witnessing incompetence, and yet I find myself sliding into the same mediocrity of lukewarm around me.

But I can’t figure out the first part of the WDEP model. What do I want? The rest should follow.

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