It’s been about two years since my last entry, when I was considering myself to still be just barely introduced to the “real world.” It feels like it has been so much longer since then, considering all the changes I’ve been through since July 2013 and moving and trying to grow as a person – and I still feel like I’m just wading into the adult life that always seems slightly ahead of wherever I am. I wonder if you ever have a sense of becoming an self-sufficient adult, or if the adult image always seems out of reach.
To provide a (hopefully quick) rundown of what has transpired since July 2013, everything went fairly according to plan for the first couple months. I worked my final shift at Panera Bread on the final day of my final graduate semester, during which we lost power for an hour and they gave me a cake and Disney-inspired clock. (That day makes me nostalgic for working there, but that’s about it.) I transitioned to fee-for-service outpatient work at my old internship site, so I was able to keep most of my clients and gained a couple new ones, while still completing assessments when able. However, I realized in October 2013 that fee-for-service alone is not nearly enough income to live off of, especially when you have upcoming student loans to deal with, so I began applying for any full-time jobs I could find in the field. Also, in August of that year, I began dating W, from grad school. We had been in classes together for the past year and worked on every presentation of the past year together, but didn’t really start to spend time together outside of school until after I graduated. On January 2nd, 2014, I was offered a full-time job at my old agency where I was a TSS, this time as a Care Specialist in my old department. I still remember hearing what my salary would be and thinking that it was FANTASTIC. (It’s decent. It sustains me, for the most part.)
So as I began working my full time job….and continued to provide outpatient therapy at my other agency…and continued to coach the colorguard…I realized that I was still working 3 jobs even though I had been so sure that earning my Master’s would be the end of spreading myself so thin. OH YOUNG NICOLE, so naive and idealistic. It only became more apparent that I was stretched too far apart when W and I broke up, although I resisted that revelation for awhile. I’ve been working multiple jobs since undergrad, and I’m not good at telling myself to slow down when it comes to work. So when we broke up and a big driving reason was not having time to see each other (also didn’t help that we lived in different states) in addition to other concerns, I was pretty angry for awhile. Angry at him and at me, because there was definitely blame to go around but the real reason is that the timing wasn’t good and we didn’t handle it well. So two months later, right around the time that I was no longer feeling so angry about the break up, we got back together and the change in the relationship was immediately apparent. I think the only thing that really affected that so soon was that, before getting back together, we went on a date and had a very frank talk about our shared experience – and I think I was only able to be so honest because I really had no intention of dating him again. (But no regrets with that – it’s over a year since then and we’re still together!) Since then, we’ve been able to communicate so much more openly and effectively – I’m not saying there weren’t other things that weren’t addressed because we both definitely had changes to make, but that communication piece was so key, we’re both still kind of blown away by the difference.
STILL MOVING ON, so much for being brief! My sister and I moved out of our parents’ home in November 2014 to live in another town with one of her college friends. It started out fairly positive, since just the feeling of paying my own rent and organizing my own space was so welcomed. But the commute to all of my jobs either stayed the same or became much longer, and living with my sister is still very much like living with my mother. (I love her and living with her has not been bad, but I still have a feeling of living at home.) And our house has no central air conditioning, so now that we’re in the height of the summer, I’m in a rage over that.
I started to realize in March 2015 that I really can’t go on with three jobs the way I have for so many years. This time, W and I were able to push through the tight schedule and my monstrous mood that came with little sleep and not being able to relax, and he helped me to eventually realize that I needed to cut back for my own health. My plan was to back out of colorguard in the spring, but when D announced her pregnancy, I knew I couldn’t leave until after she gave birth, so now I’m leaving at the end of the fall season.
And that brings me to about where I am now, still living in a Philly suburb on little sleep with three different jobs and a pretty cool boyfriend. We’re moving in together in either November or January (whenever he’s able to get out of his lease) to his family’s mini horse farm. (NOT living with his family, just in the farm owned by his family.) It means I’ll need to find a new full time job, and I’ll have to leave my outpatient agency, but in a way I’m kind of relieved about that. The little agency where I learned how to sit in a room and talk to clients is starting to feel both too big and too small all at once. There’s an increase in clients and therapists, but no room to place them in, and since I’m no longer there during the day to claim a space, I usually show up in the evening and have no office to sit in even though I have a client waiting in the lobby. I think that even if I wasn’t moving states, I would be looking for a job change soon anyway.
The scariest part of the move, at least on the job side of it, is that the state I’ll be in has much stricter guidelines for pursing professional licensure as a therapist. So where I was able to graduate with 54 credits despite licensure requiring 60, I’ll now need to finish those credits as well as pass the NCE before I can start accruing hours toward the license. The positive is that this state has basically a training version of an LPC, which I can get once I finish the classes and test but before I start hours, so I can still get jobs that would otherwise require a license. I have registered for online classes, and submitted my application to take the NCE this fall before I move. My goal is to be able to obtain that training license shortly after I move so I can find a decent job!
I am very excited to live with W and I know that he’s excited too. Our parents met each other at the farm this past weekend and it was actually a successful meeting, so I’m feeling better about that piece. I know my mom isn’t thrilled about our living together since we’re not married, but this has always been my goal. I always felt that I would be more comfortable living with a boyfriend before committing to something so long-term as marriage. Not that I would move in with just anyone, I do definitely intend to get married, but I know how picky I am and how fickle I can be, and I would prefer to find out before marriage if I can’t live with someone.
So maybe by the time I move, I’ll have taken this exam and finished my classes, and be able to get this license and consider myself a professional adult, living apart from my family and getting on with my life. Or maybe I’ll still consider myself to be a twenty-something who doesn’t know how to classify herself. All I do know is this – I’ll be down three jobs for the first time in about five years, and I’m looking forward to it!