We know what we know when we want to know it – and when it’s available to know. – Kimberly Dark, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
Smell that? That’s change in the air, folks. And rather than wafting gently toward me, it seems to be seated behind the wheel of a steamroller. Instead of jumping out of the way (which I would normally do in the face of life-altering change), I’m bracing myself, preparing to be flattened and to let it soak through me, permeating every cell. I’m ready.
Over the past year, people around me have urged caution, insisting I not act too quickly. “Sit with it for a while,” they implored me. What they don’t understand is that what may seem like impulsive decisions on the outside are actually based on long-standing inner turmoil and questioning. Once the truth finally makes itself known to you, there’s no reason to wait.
Much of my inner turmoil was a more generalized unhappiness of an indeterminate reason, or rather an incorrect assumption. I was unhappy in my marriage and I thought it was the relationship itself (and in a sense, it was) but more to the point, it was me. When I finally figured it out, it made no sense to wait it out, as suggested by more than one “friend.” I finally knew who I was and what I wanted and needed, and I was elated. I wanted to be free to be that person I had been missing for so many years.
Same goes for my career. I’ve been unhappy for quite some time now. I thought it was because I was so underpaid, so I (wrongly) assumed that a raise would fix things. Making more money is nice but it didn’t fix the burnout. Getting that raise made me face facts: this career is not for me any longer. More money or better benefits won’t change that. I have changed and as a result, my career direction needs a makeover as well.
I’ve been researching and talking to friends and acquaintances in my fields of interest and processing, processing, processing (such a lez). Public health sounded good but felt too vague. Nutrition felt like so much work and more schooling than I wanted to undertake. And I had to admit that I only wanted to advocate vegan nutrition and that would be fairly difficult for a brand new grad. My heart wasn’t in either. So I came back to something I had initially been drawn to: social work. A family friend had warned that she had worked for years in the field and “never made any money” and that it was too emotionally stressful. That sounded very valid but part of me questioned it. So I talked to another friend who is a current social worker. She admitted that social work isn’t a high paying field but I was shocked to find out that her starting salary at a non-profit was considerably more than what I’m making currently as a vet tech. That eased my fears considerably. We talked more about feminism and social justice and community organizing and I felt inspired. And certain.
After becoming more involved in the LGBT community over the past year, I’ve seen how badly things are going in some areas, the parts of our community that are being overlooked, other parts that are being badly mismanaged. I want to help change that. So my mind is made up. I’ll be applying to MSW programs this fall, with a focus on community organizing and program development. When I was an undergrad, there is no way I was emotionally stable or mature enough to become a social worker. I had so much growing and self-discovery left to do. But things are different now. I’m ready.