What school has really taught me.

Whether it be the nature of year 27 or the fact that I’m trying to start up a career a little later in life, the past 3 years as a college student has changed me in so many ways. I only have 4 short weeks of classes left until my last phase of the program begins (Level II Fieldwork). This minuscule amount of time left in the classroom has left me super reflective on what all this has meant to me.

I have learned so so much. Of course I have learned the awesome, more practical stuff. (i.e. how to rehabilitate a stroke patient or work with children with Autism…I know, OT is the coolest.) But under the surface there is one big lesson I keep coming back to.

Waiting for the “thing” to fall in your lap is a big fat waste of time. 

Growing up, a lot of the messages I internalized about deciding on a career involved words like “gifts” and “calling.” And while there is definitely something to be said of those things, what I didn’t realize was that being “called” to something didn’t mean it would come easily. So I waited…And waited…And waited…And sure, some of the natural gifts I came into this world with are actually very useful in the career I chose. But there are 1000 other things that just weren’t there.

When I started school, I was almost crushed by the weight of fear around not already having all the qualities of a successful clinician. I compared myself to others who seemed so far ahead of me. But as time went on, I gradually let go of the idea that any one job will be a perfect fit. At first, each time I received constructive feedback or a not-so-stellar grade would kill me. I would doubt the rightness of my decision to pursue this goal. I would wonder if my calling was somewhere else where I felt more comfortable. Nothing felt right about being in the program…because nothing about it was easy.

But good news! We aren’t meant to wait around for a perfect job or opportunity that feels completely right. All we really need are a desire to grow, the ability to reflect on and respond positively to failure, and the faith to believe that the long and arduous road will lead somewhere amazing.

If I could travel back in time 10 years and talk to a high school senior named Caroline, I would tell her to stop waiting, and to do the work. Do. The. Work. It is much harder to fight the uphill battles of change, wake up early, decide to go after the qualities you want to possess. The easy way out is sitting on your hands, praying that the small amount of paint on your palette will be enough to create that beautiful picture. Get off your butt and GO GET MORE FREAKIN PAINT!

If there’s anything I regret about the last decade of my life, it’s not understanding this truth sooner. My shortcomings aren’t barriers to success, they are opportunities for growth. And in all the growth, there’s more joy than I could have ever imagined.

If you are someone who discovered this much earlier, I sincerely congratulate you. It may seem like common sense to many out there. But to me, the news that I don’t have to have it all together has been so freeing. I still don’t enjoy failing. Criticism is hard. But day by day I’m learning how unbelievably rewarding it is to experience fruit from difficult labor. I’m choosing to accept the  hard work and the failures as part of the process. I’m learning to appreciate the people who invest in my life through offering me difficult feedback. I suspect this part comes with age, but I would like to think learning this a long time ago could have saved me much heartache.

I’m forever grateful for the people along the way who helped assure me of my own strength, and breathed life into my weary bones month after month I desperately wanted to give up.

Forgive my uber-cheesy, self-helpy post. I love putting into words the ways God has been growing me, and I appreciate you listening and experiencing them alongside me.

Hope your February has been as beautiful as ours has been in Austin. Henry is soaking up all of the tolerable sunshine he can before summer melts us all like popsicles. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

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Looking back.

2 weeks off of school is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Maybe slightly dramatic, but it seriously feels incredible.

The second semester of my program is now in the rear-view, and I can actually say I really enjoyed it. Sure, it was mixed with many panicked moments and tears and frustration. Not a day went by when I didn’t question my ability to succeed in passing my classes. By all of the striving was so worth it in the end.

This program has taught me so much more than what is written in textbooks. The experience has been one of the most transformative ones of my life so far, and I can’t quite put into words what it has all meant to me and my journey to becoming the woman I want to be.

I feel so privileged to be among the few women in this world who are allowed the opportunity to pursue what she was created for, even if that means putting off starting a family. I try hard not to take this opportunity lightly. It is a rare gift that I want to cherish and not waste.
My husband has been my strongest advocate for believing in myself and reminding me every day that what I am doing is important. It is vital to not only my own growth, but also the health of our family both present and future. Josh has invited this dream of mine into his life and embraced it as his own. He has heroically stood up to my insistence on quitting, and gently withstood my displaced frustrations. He has rejoiced with me in moments when my I see strength within myself I never knew was there, and challenges me to keep looking for more of the same. Thankful, thankful thankful. What a gift.

I turned 27 this semester. I lost my grandmother. I took a beautiful trip to Portland. I began my first fieldwork experience in the field of Occupational Therapy. I learned how to better care for myself when I’m at a breaking point from stress. Josh and I started down the path of home-ownership. I messed up a lot. I grew a lot. I am deeply proud of myself, which is a completely new experience for me. January really feels like a lifetime ago.

I begin Summer term in a week, and I was hoping my time off would be filled with trips to the pool and parks and hiking trails. Instead it has been tornadoes, flooding, and severe thunderstorms non-stop. Such is life in Texas. Soon I’ll be back in the classroom all day wishing I could be snuggled up in bed listening to the rain, so I will certainly take whatever rest I can get while I can get it.

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Spending a relaxing (and rainy) day at the W Austin. Did you know their spa services are 30% off to Austin residents AND you can stay all day and use the pool and gym? Staycation alert!

 

 

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Checking out Austin’s new gem Bribery Bakery on yet another rainy day this week. Sugar fixes my dreary day sads.

 

 

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My sweet classmates celebrated me on my birthday in the midst of 2 huge exams that day. They’re the best.

 

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Current status: Not pleased.

 

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Spending the day at Red Arena, where I got to be a part of providing Hippotherapy to children with disabilities. One of many incredible experiences I was allowed to have in the last few months. Have I mentioned Occupational Therapy is awesome?

 

That’s all for now since our power is probably going to go out soon. I think we have been under a tornado warning every day this week. Here’s to Summer-The restful parts and the exhausting parts.

I’m anxious to see what semester number 3 holds for me!

Seasons of learning.

Hello!

I just wanted to stick my head above water for a moment to reflect on my second semester in OTA school. Partly for the therapeutic value, and partly because I am avoiding studying for my Pathophysiology midterm.

Can I just say, health science programs are CRAZY?? Every one of you should give a huge hug to anyone wearing scrubs or a white coat the next time you see one and congratulate them for surviving school. I am completely entrenched in a world where it is physically impossible to feel caught up. My 4 classes are individually the hardest I’ve ever had, and together make for the craziest semester of my life by a long shot.

My schedule is currently as follows:

Monday through Thursday I’m in class from like 8-5. Afterward I read, I cram, I do projects, and fall asleep with textbooks in my lap. My weekends are completely taken over with studying, yet I still always feel behind. I miss my dog and I miss my husband and I sure as heck miss my social life.

Thankfully, though, this path I’m on feels more like a calling every single day. The more I learn about Occupational Therapy, the further confirmation I get that I’m where I need to be.

So, in case you don’t know what OT is, here is a little summary.

OT is a type of therapy that exists to help people engage in what is meaningful to them. It is completely centered around the individual, their goals, desires, and strengths. It exists in so many different fields, from schools to hospitals to people’s homes. But the underlying assumption is that people are not their illness, people are capable of incredible things, and if you engage someone in activities that mean something to them, their life and health will improve dramatically.

If I make it through this program (yea, if…) I will get the privilege of spending my days collaborating with people of all levels of functioning to tap into what makes them unique, and using that to help them achieve wellness. I LOVE the variety in this profession and can never see myself bored. Because we work with people, there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained. I will always have more to know, more room to grow, and more opportunities to be moved by the strength of the human spirit. I really really love this profession.

The variety, though, is also the part that makes school so hard. Everyone is different. Every abnormality, every body structure, every motivator, every outlook on the world…Different. My school days are centered around learning every single thing I can about human development, how the body works (normally and abnormally), diseases, injuries, group dynamics, activities that can be used as therapy, how to assess someone for deficits, and everything in between. It is overwhelming to say the least.

All in all, I am stressed but happy. I am overwhelmed but fulfilled. I am doubtful I can finish, but excited for the day I can do this stuff for real.

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Can you tell someone is totally deprived of mommy time? Poor buddy.

Hope everyone’s weeks are filled with activities that bring joy and fulfillment and hope, no matter how much pain it might bring in the process.