Looking back on my life I’d love to be able to say that I always knew what my passion was and what I wanted to do with my career, but the reality is that this could not be further from the truth. The truth is, that having grown up in a chaotic household, helping people whose lives even somewhat resembled mine, had never even crossed my mind.
My sole driver was to do something…anything really…. that would carry me down a better path than the one I came from…quite simply just a pathway out.
Passions aside, I did understand that I had proficiency in writing and was incredible at debate. Haha! Those specific talents, coupled with my interest (obsession) with “Law and Order” (the OG show) I contemplated obtaining a law degree.
I went to college and started the coursework that I thought would be useful in optimizing these strengths and working towards becoming an attorney. However, I quickly learned that winning arguments in my personal life was what gratified me… meaning not so much the prerequisite course work for law school.
I continued to feel lost and somewhat frustrated as I explored and struggled through different fields of study. While I felt like my attorney dreams were slipping through my fingers, I also felt like I was grasping at straws signing up for psychology courses, thinking they may be more intuitive and possibly more manageable. Instead I felt like they were dense and complex as well… but it was different this time. I found myself connecting to and thinking about the academic content in psychology in a way that I had never academically connected before. So I stuck with it and declared my major. As if it was not a sufficient enough challenge for me, I decided to tack on Sociology as a double major, ever managing a perfectionistic drive to prove something to myself and others… although I was never quite sure what it was at the time.
I gravitated towards the criminal justice and forensic elements of psychology and sociology, and feeling finally connected to a sense of direction and purpose, I graduated college feeling for the first time, ready to get out in the world and do something beneficial for society.
What a reality check I received when I found out that not only would my bachelor’s degree yield me virtually nothing in terms of a desirable long-term career, but I was also so completely unprepared for how difficult, exhausting, and humbling my first job out of college doing direct patient care in an inpatient adolescent psychiatric hospital would be.
Ironically though, it was there, at that hardest (worst) job of my entire life, that I met Claire, the woman who ended up being the most influential woman to come into my life. Claire--- meaning Claire Wieman, the owner of this practice.
Regarding everything that happened next… in a million years I would not have believed any of it if hadn’t seen it all with my own two eyes…but this chance encounter with her at that challenging crossroads of my life is definitely the most profound part of this story for me.
At that ripe old age of 22, I was fresh out of college, working at this excruciating job, and truly believing I understood all about who I was, and how life worked…
In reality, I was filled with anger that I didn’t even realize or understand. In reality what drove me was a faulty belief that my fighting spirit kept me sharper and safer. And speaking of reality checks… in reality, nothing could have been further from the truth.
I was on Claire’s radar because I had all kinds of important things to tell her about how incorrectly that hospital was running. I needed her to hear from me because obviously she didn’t understand what I understood, and obviously she would benefit from hearing about all that from me!
Ummm that’s not quite how it went down though….
Instead, she listened to everything I said. She calmly responed to me not only as if she understood exactly what was going on there at the hospital, she presented as though she knew exactly what was going on with me! Her message to me was blunt, clear, and humbling. But more importantly than that, it was spot on, and it was respectful.
No one had ever told me all about myself in a constructive way. Her message to me was that I was very smart, and had a lot of potential, but that I was getting ahead of myself, that there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance, and that understanding how to live in that fine line zone is the key to success at life.
She advised on my professional trajectory and recommended specific next steps for me, pertaining to which graduate programs would be most appropriate and effective for me, and emphasizing to me the necessity of doing the personal growth on my end required to get there. It was exactly the message I needed to hear at exactly the right time.
That message was re-presented to me in other settings along the way. I went on to work in forensics and addictions, where I heard different versions of the same message I had heard from Claire, and it became further emblazoned in my brain. With the redundancy of bumping into this identified theme, in a variety of settings, and communicated to me from a range of influential people from all walks of life, I was left no choice but to recognize and accept that-- the common denominator was me.
And so it played out just like Claire had described when I was just 22 years old, as her hope for my future… I went on to do the interpersonal work on myself in my own therapy, and I paid my dues in the professional realm, and shoveled a lot of %$#+ along the way!
But there was still one more vital missing piece though that I needed to embrace to make it all work…Because of the difficulties I endured in my own upbringing, I had unconsciously underestimated the value and necessity of having someone to believe in me and with the most loving intentions, push me to be better. It was uncomfortable for me to accept that kind of support because I always thought everyone had an angle… which was really just a way of erroneously thinking I was being strong, and keeping myself safe.
What I didn’t know is how in the years to come, is that Claire and my paths would continue to cross in the most timely and serendipitous ways…. and I certainly didn’t know, that 15 years later I would be working by her side at Evo-Life. We lost touch for years, and one day I found her on Psychology Today. I was intrigued to see where she had landed, running her own private practice, a practice that conveyed everything she had always told me about what she believed in.
She often tells the story about the first day we reconnected after all those years… how I walked into her office for the first time and said “Wow. What I wouldn’t give to be able to have a job like this someday.” And she responded to me “Why can’t you? You can.”
I did not hear her or take it seriously… I was so happy and proud of her, but this was certainly never something that could be available to me. Claire laughs about this moment now, and says she heard me make that statement, and she was instantly on a mission to make me believe in myself. She pushed me to let go of all the “pragmatic beliefs” I held that were in actuality just indoctrinated fears about what you have to do in life to be responsible… and to find and live my passion instead.
And so fast forward 2 years (13 plus 2 years), and here I sit being treated as a vital part of her dream, while simultaneously living out my own dream… a dream that is a only reality because she was the one who made me see that it could be.
Like I said earlier in this statement, in a million years I could not have asked for a more amazing outcome. I am presently the happiest I have ever been in my life. My “job” if you can even call it a job, is I get to help others find their version of happiness and help them find a way to live their absolute best life. I would never be here today if I had not learned to: 1) get over myself 2) work through my own traumas and my shame 3) push through my fears and consequently come to believe that I am deserving and capable of a life well lived.
Because of all those triumphs, I am now able to pay it forward to all of you.
Beyond all the clinical training I have received, and the expertise I continue to obtain and cultivate, I am now here to walk you through the darkest chapters of your life, and watch you find your light.