I am reminded this week that I did one thing right in my life. Mind you, there were many things I did poorly – relationships, parenting, money, health – to cite the short-list. But, vocationally, I had a small window of clarity at the young age of seventeen. I grabbed it and held on like a piece of floating driftwood of stability in the middle of a thrashing ocean.
And, I didn’t even let the dropped egg deter me.
It all began with an Introduction to Psychology class my junior year of high school. The textbook, which still sits on my bookshelf, was some multi-colored Rorschach looking madness. The teacher’s name long forgotten, but, her face and more importantly, her energy, permanently led me down my professional path. Thank you, Ms. What’s-Her-Name. Her words and ideas spoke to me. My college courses, easy pick. Graduate school, no sweat. Making a life? Well, that was a whole different animal. But, at least, the Universe threw me a much-needed bone. I got one thing right.
I don’t think it’s any secret that those of us that are drawn to psychology are as much in need of helping ourselves as we are in helping others. For, altruism is not generated in a vacuum. Like warm salve on an open wound, Ms. What’s-Her-Name’s words were relieving. She invited me into meaning-making of my internal chaos. As she explained psychological theory – from Freud to Skinner to Gestalt to Rogers – I hung on every word, as a morsel to the starving. Ms. What’s-Her-Name dished out hope in the form understanding. Her offering was not only a lifeline, but became my vocational destination. The one thing in life I would get right.
Don’t get me wrong. Nothing is as linear as we make it out to be. There were moments when I wish I went into business – at least I would not have to worry about money. Or law, where I could legitimately fight and not have to feel. Or design, where I could indulge my love of color. Or dentistry, where at least my family could relate to me. Or even retail, where shoes would come at a discount.
But those moments are fleeting. Sit me down with a disconnected couple. Or give me a group to lead. Or, put me in the trenches with someone who wants to engage deeply with life’s underbelly. I’m hooked, just as I was at seventeen, sitting in Ms. What’s-Her-Name’s class, my plaid skirt and saddle shoes covering my frozen feelings. I am ever grateful I got this one right. That I get to support myself and my family with a day job that flows with the best version of me.
And, yet, I did drop that egg. (You are still wondering about that part, eh?) As part of the Psychology class, we had to carry around an egg for a week. A real one, not a hard-boiled version. We were simulating the experience of what it would be like to have a baby. It had to tag along with us everywhere. If we had to leave it, we must find a babysitter. We colored our eggs. We named our eggs. And, we were told emphatically not to drop our eggs.
You know the rest of the story. Two days in, my baby egg was sitting on the locker room bench as we dressed for PE class. Splat. Down goes the baby. It cracked all over the hard floor. Yolk and egg white oozed its way across the cold tile. I stared at the no longer whole egg wondering what to do now. I had to tell my teacher that I killed my egg baby.
Yet, the tragic ending of my egg did not hinder my enthusiasm. Despite the unexpected crack, I went on to have a very fulfilling profession. Doing what I love. Providing meaning and healing to others while journeying alongside in this lifelong adventure.
Life works that way, you know. Cracks are an inevitable part of the process. Don’t let them dissuade your passion. Who knows what lies on the other side of disaster.