There isn’t just one formula of how to “get where you’re going”. I say that in quotations because no matter how much of a “plan” we have or where we think we are going, it all usually ends up turning out differently than we thought. Kind of scary, and kind of beautiful, right?
I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to go to my dream school to do Child Life in the accelerated program so I’d have my Master’s in 5 years. WRONG. After the tour during my junior year of high school, I knew that this wasn’t the place for me to do my undergrad. I wanted to go to a Catholic school and have more of a campus feel and join lots of activities. So, I chose a different school and it was the absolute perfect fit for me – I was personally satisfied and had a more broad major where I could learn a more diverse set of professional skills. Then, I thought I had it all figured out once again. After I finished my undergrad, I would get my Master’s in Child Life right away – I would go to school and do my internship at the same time and I’d be all set. WRONG AGAIN. During my junior year of college, I didn’t feel that I was ready to jump right into grad school. I didn’t want to spend my whole senior year worrying about applications – I had become so fixated on the future and wanted to change that. I wanted to live in the moment. I wanted to take a step back and let go. For a third time, I thought I had it all figured out. I would do a year of service or find some kind of job and then apply to grad school for the year after. KIND OF WRONG, KIND OF RIGHT. I wrote about this in a previous post, but I ended up falling into a child life internship right after I finished my undergrad. It wasn’t affiliated with a master’s program like I had initially planned.
Plan, plan, plan.
It didn’t all turn out like I planned. It turned out way better.
I had no idea the kind of beauty that could be found beyond just what I had imagined. I had no idea that child life could be done in the comfort of someone’s home. I had no idea that I had the capability of passing the exam within 6 months of graduating.
You never know until you let go, sometimes.
It was kind of an egotistical thing. I thought that you were better because you had your master’s. I thought you were better because you worked in one of the best hospitals in the world. There is nothing wrong with any of those things – I am enrolled to begin my master’s program this summer and I have aspirations to maybe one day work in a hospital. But those things don’t make me better than anyone else.
How do any of those things make you “better”? Of course I am excited to learn new skills and gain professional development in grad school, but that doesn’t make me higher up than anyone else. Humility check. Because after all, the beauty of this vocation in child life is in the relationships you build. A degree can’t buy that. Nothing can. What could be more beautiful than being in a 12 year old girl from a foreign country’s video explaining to her class what has happened to her over her last year of cancer treatment, and her explaining how even though she looks different now, she still wants to be treated the same when she goes back to school. What could be more beautiful than making calm-down glitter jars with a four year old girl and her brother while their mom tells you their story of why they moved across the country for medical care. What could be more beautiful than seeing a little boy’s face light up because he sees that a stuffed animal has a port-a-cath just like himself.
These past few months have given me a humility check. I have been a witness to so many beautiful moments, way before I ever thought I would be in this field. While I have ambitions on this journey I am on, I cannot forget why I am doing it. I never thought a year ago when I walked across the stage at graduation that I would be here right now intertwined in these families’ lives. I just had my eyes set on the prize, but didn’t see that there was more than one way to that. And I am here. I don’t work in a big hospital and I don’t have my master’s degree, but I still have the best job in the world. I promise you, your dreams can come true if you are open to the multiple ways of getting there! Be not fixated on the end goal, but enjoy what you learn along the way in the process.
As I sit here late on a Sunday night, the week that I will begin my grad school journey, I am glad that I took this time to reflect. I am excited for what’s to come, but I never thought I would have even been where I am right now if I hadn’t gone to grad school yet. Boy was I wrong. I had to be flexible with my plans to allow for the beauty to unfold before I had planned it would. It’s not about a title. It’s about the learning. Your vocation can happen in the simplest ways, and I am forever grateful for these opportunities that have shown me that.