advice from a therapist

It’s been 8 months since I’ve written on here. Here is a basic summary of what has been going on since then:

  • This last summer I was a lifeguard (again) and I loved it.
  • I also spent about a week in the hospital with a kidney stone (the Texas heat is no joke, y’all…drink water).
  • I have been running individual and group therapy sessions at my internship since August.
  • I am about to start my last semester of grad school.

It’s absolutely nuts.

I’m graduating. School is over. And I have mixed feelings about it.

I’m also doing therapy. I frequently think back on all of my apprehensions starting out. I went in with this idea of what Therapist Sam should be: cool, calm, and (most importantly) have all the answers. I wanted to present my best self, a wise self, someone that could be trusted. But once I realized that just Sam, with my questions and not too many answers, felt more authentic and honest…some real growth happened. Once I learned to sit with someone as myself, and not portray who I thought I should be, I was able to listen. 

It’s been an interesting, draining, challenging, fulfilling, heartbreaking, humbling, rewarding, and forcing-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone experience.

I’ve also been talking a lot about what it’s like being a therapist. Especially with my uber drivers. Random, I know. But I’ve been able to have these really deep and thought provoking conversations with these strangers that have shared their story with me.

I’ve listened to many stories full of heartbreak, loss, and unimaginable pain. A husband grieving the loss of his wife of 45 years. A father struggling to care for his elderly parents while also taking care of his son with muscular dystrophy. A son working in the US to send money back to his family in Venezuela.

I’ve also heard stories of love, growth, and peace. A new grandfather describing the joy he felt when meeting his first grandchild. A fiancé absolutely beaming when she told the story of her proposal. A woman relocating to pursue her dreams.

And through these stories, I noticed some commonalities throughout all of them. I thought it might be cool, as we go into the new year, to share some of the points that stood out from these strangers:

  1. Find joy in the small things
  2. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable
  3. Learn to develop and maintain boundaries to prevent yourself from burning out
  4. Everyone has pain
  5. Balance is key
  6. Hug the ones you love while you can
  7. A little kindness goes a long way
  8. There is no such thing as being happy all the time
  9. You don’t have to be okay all the time – give yourself permission to not be okay
  10. Listen to and respect your body
  11. Karma is very real
  12. Find your passions and pursue them, they will reward you more than money
  13. Getting older is hard, but your outlook can help make it a little easier
  14. It’s cliche, but life really does fly by
  15. If you don’t set aside time to rest, your body will decide it for you
  16. Sometimes the struggle can lead to something beautiful
  17. People are resilient and can overcome things they never thought they could
  18. There is strength in vulnerability
  19. You can’t help those who don’t want to be helped
  20. Connection is e v e r y t h i n g – it is the reason we are here

I’m feeling good about the work I’m doing. I’m feeling good about the connections I’m making and the support I provide. I hope to continue to learn and grow. I hope to continue to listen and help. And I hope to keep sharing my journey.