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August Blog Challenge - Day 7

What is your dream job and why?

I have my dream job.  I really do.

I work at Walla Walla Community College.  It's the best community college in the nation according to the Aspen Institute.

And it is. It really is.

I went to a private university.  A pretty snobby, pretentious one. I thought the community college would somehow be "less" than a university.

I was so wrong.

This place is filled with dynamic, passionate, intelligent people.  And these people care so much about the students they serve. I am continually awed by the caliber of learning and the depth of compassion I see every day.

And I get to be a part of it.

The work I do is hard. But I have a partner.  Daryl.  He's my sanity.  He keeps me grounded.  He's brilliant and insightful and he fills my work days with unconditional love.  We support each other. We talk and connect every day, sustaining each other in ways that go far beyond the surface.  We grow together as people and as therapists.  We fight bias and stigma and help people hear the voices of those who are often overlooked. When things get too stressful, we put on music and dance. I was going to say that I couldn't do this work without him, but I probably could.  I just wouldn't be nearly as good at it.


My title is Faculty Counselor, and I get the best of both worlds.  I get to teach.  This means I get to interact with these people who are curious and bright.  I get to advise some of them, help them plan their path and hear their dreams.  It's hopeful work, filled with excitement about possibilities.

But I spend most of my day in therapy sessions with students.  Our college recognizes that often it's not the math or the science or the English that stands in the way of those dreams.  It's the issues that the students are handling in their lives that become barriers to their success.

I meet with incredible people.  I am privileged to hear their fears, their sorrows, their trauma.  They trust me with their worst thoughts, their hardest memories and their deepest emotions.  I hear about the worst moments of their lives.  Rape.  Molestation.  Drugs.  Violence.  Fear.  Depression.  Suicidal thoughts.  Despair.  Shame.  They pour it out.  And I listen.  I hear.

It is sacred work.  Every day, we tackle the tough stuff.  Asking the hard questions.  What do I feel? What does that emotion mean?  What am I thinking?  How does my thinking influence my emotions? How do my emotions influence my thinking?  What messages am I giving myself? Where do those messages come from?  Are they valid?  How do I make sense of what has happened to me?   What is important?  What is meaningful? What am I responsible for? What kind of person do I want to be? How do I get there?  What can I do?  Can I change?  What do I have control over?  And most of all, am I worthy, am I enough?

My part is to create a safe place.  To listen deeply without judgment. To share observations. To ask hard questions. And to offer unconditional positive regard.  In other words, to love them while they struggle.

It's easy.  And it's hard.

It's easy because I have such admiration for each person who is brave enough to find their way to my office and open themselves to such an incredibly intense process.  It's easy because I feel their pain deeply. It's easy because I care.  It's easy because it matters so much.

It's hard because it is so intense.  It's exhausting.  It's hard because I feel their pain deeply. It's hard because I care.  It's hard because it matters so much.

It is life-altering work I do.

People ask all the time how I can do it.  How I can absorb so much pain.  I'll tell you.  It's because I get to be part of healing that pain.  I get to hear things like:

"It really isn't my fault, is it?"
"I realized...."
"I tried something different."
"I actually felt..."
"I was scared, but I did it."
"I've made a decision."
"I can do this."
"I caught myself and broke an old pattern."
"I have a choice."
"I'm worth it."

I witness miracles.  And even when things go badly, I have an opportunity to walk with someone through their pain, and I believe that alone makes a difference.

So while it might sound nice to be a caregiver of baby pandas or a puppy holder or a chocolate taster for a living, I wouldn't trade what I do for anything.

It's my dream job.


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