February 11, 2009

Identity Crisis

I'm sure the absence of posts on here isn't affecting anyone. Heck, I'm willing to bet no one's even reading anymore (leave a comment if you are, c'mon, prove me wrong!). I've gone ahead and put a shiny new Helvetica-sparkle on the whole site, as I was getting tired of Georgia. I hope it's pleasing to your eye.

My life right now is the opposite of hectic, but it's still incredibly stressful. I've been out of work since the middle of October. The job market is completely saturated right now, because there's a record number of people who've also been laid off. It's not a happy time for too many. I consider myself lucky because Erik and I have a good chunk of money in savings, and we can get by for awhile without me having an income. I can't imagine what would happen if we didn't have this buffer. Losing our brand new house might be more than I could bear.

So the bad news is that I'm out of work, but the good news is that I've had the time and distance to better evaluate what I'd like to do with my career. I had been focused on the tv/film industry from high school through just over a year ago, and now that I'm living in an area nearly devoid of that, I've had a bit of an identity crisis. Even before we moved up here, I was contemplating a career change. But I had so much I was interested in... what to choose?

I considered everything from nursing to database administration. I evaluated opportunities based on pay, required schooling, potential schedules, and work environment. Nothing was really holding my interest. Until I sat down and took inventory on my interests. While I'm not exactly studied in any of these, I'm interested in the fields of graphic design, web design, web usage, marketing, computers and technology in general. I've also consistently thought about going back to school and studying psychology, but didn't really have in mind becoming a therapist. The blind should not be leading the blind, there.

A few years back I stumbled across an old classmate's website, and saw that he was working in the field of Usability. It piqued my interest at the time, and I always thought that it was something I'd be good at. But I wasn't really looking at a career change at the time, so I just set it aside. And finally, just a short time ago, it came back and tapped me on the shoulder.

I've decided that I want to go back to school to major in Psychology (Cognitive) with an emphasis on Human-Computer Interaction, or Interaction Design, or Usability... whatever the cool kids are calling it these days. Sure, I have tons of credits from when I went to school around 15 years ago, but I'm sure most of them have expired, so I'll basically be starting from scratch. Also, I don't believe I'll be able to attend school full-time (at least not starting out), so it will be a slow re-entry; perhaps taking a class or two each semester/quarter/etc.

I'm still trying to mentally-prepare myself for the reality that this will take a REALLY. LONG. TIME. I don't have the luxury of being fresh out of high school with all kinds of time and no financial responsibilities. I'm a "real" adult now, and I need to find a job (full-time, most-likely), as I have a mortgage to contribute to. Certainly not helping matters is the fact that I can't wrap my brain around the story of that woman who recently birthed octuplets - she's going to school full-time, living off of student loans, and is a single mother. Gah! Part of me thinks, "If she can do it, why can't I?" Oh yeah, I'm not a selfish, irresponsible person who is taking advantage of the system, that's right!

So yeah, it's an exciting time if for no other reason than I finally feel like I have a direction. It's a long road, but at least I know where to find it on the map.

posted by julie at February 11, 2009 06:41 PM

things people have said

You can absolutely do it. Let me know what I can do to help.

so said: Josh at February 11, 2009 07:41 PM

thanks, Josh. :)

so said: julie at February 11, 2009 07:49 PM

Jules, that's great! I think it will be hard work to go back to school, but it will be very stimulating! You'll probably meet some nice new people as well who could perhaps help you in the job department. Oh, and I love the Helvetica! :-)

so said: Rachel at February 12, 2009 10:30 AM

Hi Julie,

Glad to prove you wrong about whose checking your blog:)

I'm excited for you about the possibility of school. It will be hard, but you seem like such an organized and goal-oriented person that I'm sure you will be very successful.

I had to comment on your blind leading the blind statement. As a therapist, I can say with some certainty that therapists are some of the most messed-up people around, and that we are frequently leading the blind while walking around in our dark sunglasses tapping on the sidewalk with our red-tipped sticks. Therapists don't need to be perfect, but do need deep empathy for others and an ability to help people explore their emotional worlds and problem-solve. I think we often have more to offer our clients when we have experienced our own times of darkness.

In any case, I have several friends who have been working to integrate technology and cognitive behavioral therapy-- including using virtual reality for things like systematic desensitization for phobias. It seems like there is a whole new branch of our field developing, and it's really exciting for you to get into it at this early stage.

so said: Sara at February 15, 2009 09:35 PM

i just love positive feedback!
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