Just got word that I’ve been accepted into an Occupational Therapy Assistant program at the local college for the Fall.
Three months ago when I quit my job I’d had no success at obtaining employment that was even quasi-professional and that kind of thing breaks you down.
Tired of employers not finding my skills valuable. Tired of earning poverty wages. Tired of being dependent. Tired of That’s it! I’m going back to school! I decided.
But I’ve “gone back to school” before and it didn’t get me very far.
6 years back I spent $1000 and 5 months studying full-time (30-50 hours a week) to be a medical coder. I passed the FOUR-hour certification exam on the first try, something only a 1/3 of test takers do. Looked for a year and couldn’t find a job. I was told because I don’t have any experience. Gawddamnit. Medical offices were happy with their incompetent bad-attitude staff (sorry; I’m bitter). By the way, my medical coding knowledge actually did help me out today, but that’s a story for a different post.
For the most part it was a huge waste of time and money and I took it personally when I wasn’t hired and became despondent and believed I was unhireable.
Five years ago I spent another $1000 and 5 months full-time (30-40 hours a week) studying online how to be doula from the lead Manhattan doula organization (at the time). I love doula-ing. I was self-employed and created my own business cards, website, and led an informational group in the community for my services and everything. But my area didn’t/doesn’t have a high enough demand for doula services for me to come up on top.
So even though I was initially excited about the prospect of going back to school I was (am) skeptical that it’ll benefit me financially.
However, over the past few years (but more specificially the last 6 months) I have considered going back to school for occupational therapy. Part of my high school “major” was in Health Occupations and I got an opportunity to shadow a couple physical and occupational therapists as well as other allied health professionals and liked the OT job the best. I was pre-PT in college but I bombed my science classes. Always been my poorest subject. Fortunately, I no longer suck at science. Well, I do, however less than most people. Got in the top 10% on the science portion of the entrance exam which is, frankly, terrifying. Because I don’t know shit about science. Still learning!
I think what really was thinking about my granddma laying around depressed in the nursing home. All of the things she used to loved to do involved using her hands (gardening, knitting, reading) and I was wracking my brain how to make adjustments to her environment so that she could find ways to make her life easier and worth living. I went online and found items created by occupational therapists to help the elderly. For example, radios with limited settings and bigger buttons. Tools to help seniors get their shoes and clothes on. The idea of making simple adjustments to one’s environment, enabling individuals to have more independence, dignity, and a life worth living is inspiring to me. And personality and skill-wise it’s right up my alley.
I think of people like myself who have mental health disabilities and wonder if I might be able to help someone function better at work so they can keep their job. I remember substituting as a teacher’s assistant at an school for kids with special needs and was impressed what the OTs were able to do for the kids.
Anyway, there does seem to be a decent # of jobs available in the field, even in my area, and the entry-level pay is more than I’ve ever made, ever. In previous years I had focused on getting a Masters in OT however I realized I need to start earning $ sooner and OTA was more realistic. So, I set my sights on it!
I didn’t really even consider it seriously until 3 months ago and then I got to work: I applied to the college and a couple weeks later, got in. Got my transcripts (which was a pain in the ass). Met with a couple advisors. Studied for a couple weeks for the 2 hour entrance exam. Thought I failed the exam. No, really; thought I did horribly. Got the scores a couple weeks later (the wait was AGONIZING) and saw I did AMAZING. They only count how you do in comparison with other test-takers, not how many you get right. Been taking a couple courses this summer just in case I didn’t get in so I could up my point score. Making A’s in those now. It’s a ton of work to keep it up.
It was a full month of waiting. Not knowing what decision to make in terms of searching for full-time work or what. Just waiting, waiting. Tick-tock. Paralyzed. Had to move. Can’t make decisions. My personal life is still in the balance.
So, I’m in. I “coped ahead” (DBT skill) in case I didn’t get in. Didn’t cope-ahead for getting in. Mistake not to prepare. No, I’m serious. Thought I’d be thrilled. Thought I’d scream and run through the house. Because I really wanted this. I saw the mail was a packet and not a letter and I just knew. I read the packet material and knew I had to do a lot of work to be able to start the program.
Probably what put a damper on my excitement was that I realized I have to use my former employer (the horrific company I just quit 3 months ago) to process my records, background check, drug test, etc .Good news is I know the ins and outs of the process. Bad news: my mind can only focus on all the things that could go wrong. In the 2 years I worked for them I literally interacted with 10,000 students across the country, all because of issues they were having with the process. And I know all the issues. So my brain keeps going over all the issues. Worrying over things that haven’t happened yet.
Easy solution: Just take it one step at a time and just follow up on things. I do that I’ll be fine. But my brain is telling me things never work out.
When I want something really badly I can’t enjoy it for that reason. Must want this badly. This path feels right for me.
Now that I’ve identified what the issue is I can do something about it. Mainly, two ways:
- Not put all my eggs in this basket. Leave some eggs for…other? baskets. Like, what the hell does that even mean practically speaking?
Mindfullness. Be in the present moment. Enjoy the moments I can now.
Ugh, these sound like platitudes when I write it out, but I know it my heart what it means. Gonna go try now to enjoy life and quit ruining my life with worry.