I've always wanted to help people.
When I graduated college, I figured that I should get some experience with the "in person" side of psychology. See, when I was studying, I was mostly involved in data, research, and statistics - the "behind-the-scenes" of creating studies to learn about human behavior. Psychology is a huge field, and I thought I could benefit from experiencing various subcategories within that realm.
Enter my first full-time job as a residential counselor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF, if you want to know the jargon).
Translation? Keep teens and pre-teens safe and entertained so that they can follow an agenda designed to get them out of institutions and back into "the real world".
They were already receiving an education and therapy within the walls of this facility - all we had to do was make sure they didn't hurt themselves or anyone else during or in between these activities.
I was barely older than some of these kids, and I was expected to be in charge of them 😅 Well, if you've ever met me, I'm not exactly cut out for bossing people around (which, ironically, I would be very successful at at my next job). I wasn't maternal enough to be a tough Mama-bear figure, like one of my coworkers who was very successful at connecting with the kids without falling for their mischievous ways. Nor was I an example of a strong man with a healthy view on masculinity to be a role model to the boys.
Yet, somehow, one day (during training, mind you), I found myself alone on a unit of boys who were always one step away from an inappropriate comment (on a good day) or beating someone up (on a bad day). I kept my cool, assumed I'd just have to fake it till I make it, and miraculously they respected me.
That didn't change the fact that I was on guard for a solid half year.
It's incredibly stressful to be on guard all the time. It's mentally and physically exhausting to be ready for a verbal or physical attack at any given moment. While my nerves were running high, I quickly learned quite a lot.
Other than the lasting bed bug anxiety that still wakes me up in the middle of the night, I'm grateful to have worked in a psychiatric facility. I was lucky to work with an amazing team of people who always rushed to your side when you needed it. Nothing brings a team together like the potential for danger. We had each other's backs. Ultimately, I wasn't happy with how I wasn't able to really help or make any difference.
So I started my yoga training. But I'm getting ahead of myself - I didn't teach for another year after that. We're still missing a few stories and many, many lessons 😉