If you would have seen me wake up this morning, you would have seen me roll over, look at my cell phone and think, “Man, I could sleep another 15 minutes, but I just cannot, I have to get up, I have to prepare.” Prepare for what you might ask, my first real counseling client. Even though my client wasn’t until 10am, I was up at 7:45am, wondering what it was going to be like.
It’s funny because last night one of my counselor ed friends messaged me to inform me that it was 4 minutes until scheduled freakout time. It made me laugh, and we talked a bit about my anxiety of starting this experience to which he replied that I need to take my own blog advice to not sweat the small stuff, well played, well played. It’s so true though, and I’ve been so much better thinking about where I came from and where I am now with such things. Anyway, the counseling.
I arrived about 40 minutes before the session was to start and began my walking journey from the commuter lot to the CEDAR clinic. I decided that it would be best to listen to music to clear my mind before this whole thing was to start. I turned on the Pandora station of Matthew West, and it seemed to calm me down a bit, until I got to Cedar.
When my mind is anxious, it goes some crazy places, let me tell you. I thought to myself at one point, “I can’t do this, I can’t, I can’t be a counselor and talk to people, I think I’ll just pick something new.” Or my ever so clever, “This is too much, I will just get a different master’s….yeah.” My mind went there, it went to thinking about leaving the program, but the thing about me is that I have the spirit of a fighter. Not a physical fighter or even someone that likes to pick fights with people, but someone that has a driving spirit to not give up. Maybe that’s why I’m so stubborn at times. At this point in time, I chose to fight.
To me the easy way out of this situation would have been to have the flight response where I just ran, literally, and found something new. Life isn’t that easy though, we can’t just run from our problems, we have to face them head on even if that may be hard to do. I will tell you one thing though, it gets easier.
I took a deep breath and invited my client back to the room, we talked initially, then I look at the clock…10:15am…oh man, 15 minutes in and I asked all the questions I had on my paper. NOW WHAT? Well, needless to say, I made it to 50 minutes, I may have done a little more work than I should have, but I made it. Mission accomplished. And the second client? Made it to 50 minutes with them too. I am still anxious about tomorrow, but at least I know some ways in which I can work on extending the time. I need to breath. If there is one thing that I do when I get nervous, it’s talk fast. Funny thing is that I’m an auctioneer, but that doesn’t make me one bit nervous, maybe because you are supposed to go quickly.
In doing speeches in high school and college, the suggestion was always to “slow down.” So why would this be any different? I need to learn from this and become more comfortable, but I’m sure it will come in time. Practice makes perfect as they say, though I don’t believe in the perfect counselor, just like I don’t believe in the perfect person here on earth. Back to fight or flight though.
It’s a simple concept, really, but we often make it complicated. Are we willing to stay and fight for what we need or do we cower when something doesn’t go as planned? This extends way beyond academics, but it definitely seems to be an inborn notion in ourselves that stems from early experiences. Maybe it’s genetics, maybe it’s experience, heck, maybe it’s a bit of both. Whatever the case though, it can shape our world-view. It could be the difference between trying one more method of treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer or it could be applying to another school because you were rejected by your first option.
It’s not failing to me that is a sign of weakness, because failing means that you tried but did not succeed. Quitting or not even attempting is weakness. Now some people may say that quitting is not always a bad thing, and that’s true, but if it becomes a habit, how much good is it really doing for us.
So I challenge you to look inward. If you see the theoretical bear are you going to fight that bear for the honey or are you going to run as fast as you can in the other direction?