Some people know who they are when they are younger. For some, it takes many years. I think that for myself, I fall somewhere in the middle. I think I know who am, but I could be wrong. I’m not quite ready to rule out that possibility. So, in my struggle to keep afloat in life, I have made certain choices that do not make sense to me, and I’ve made choices that make sense to me, but to no one else. This is a confusing, and very vague statement, but it is the only way I know how to articulate my feelings of how I’m doing in life.
I am twenty-four years old. I still live with my parents. I have no romantic relationship of any kind, and only one friend that lives two and a half hours away. It took me five years to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I work at a daycare. No, I do not get paid what my BA in psychology should warrant, but then neither do many millennials in similar situations as myself. And one last thing that I feel necessary to explain my life is something that a discerning person would have gathered already, I have A LOT of anxiety and pretty much zero self-confidence!
But I know that all of the above is who I am, and I accept that about myself. That does not mean that I don’t have a large desire to improve myself. My life could get better, and I could do something about it! But how? I keep going back in my life and wishing I had done things differently. There will always be something further and further back, but I want to focus on from when I was about ten years old.
I come from a pretty large family, with two older sisters, a younger brother, and just a whole bunch of cousins. The majority of the time, I am grateful for this much family, but growing up, I didn’t always see it that way. When my whole family got together, I was typically the youngest girl, someone that was too little (and scared) to play with my older guy cousins and someone that was too uncool to play with my sisters or older girl cousins. Eventually, there came girl cousins that were younger than me, and in an effort to make sure they never felt excluded like I did, I would play with them and hang around them at gatherings. (This is something I think many “middle kids” end up doing.) Then, without really intending to, or realizing it, I became the best babysitter ever.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I was being praised for something actually difficult for many people to accomplish; being a compassionate human being. And I really enjoyed being a positive influence and role model to my little cousins. So, word spread, and I became THE babysitter. And this continued through high school. When most of my friends were getting their first jobs as cashiers, photocopiers, or lab interns; I didn’t feel the necessity to get a “real” job because I had an abundance of babysitting jobs lined up already. This was a thing I was comfortable doing. The kids did whatever I said for the most part, and the whole point of babysitting was to have no one superior to you constantly looking over your shoulder. Yes, I have and inferiority problem… So, maybe I took the easy way out. I mean, I enjoyed it for the most part. Children are funny. They are surprising. They are fascinating to watch grow and learn. I was never bored.
Fast forward a few years and suddenly, I have a lot of experience in child care. But the responsibilities start to get more advanced. Now, I have to make sure children know rules and don’t stand on chairs. I have to tell them to be quiet because there’s too many of them in one room for everyone to talk at a normal level. I have to tell the little ones to stop laughing when they eat, for fear of choking. I have to know exactly with whom the children come and go. I have to get them to walk places instead of run. I have to stop them from hurting each other. I have to know CPR!
At this point in my life, my anxiety has soared through the roof to a point where everyday at work is a stressful day, no matter what. I try to convince myself that this anxiety is easily overcome because parents do it all the time. But do most parents have to deal with seven two-year-olds at once, all by themselves? Have I bitten off more than I can chew in my chosen career path? Did I even really choose this career path, or did I just sort of fall into it? I have so many questions, but there is one that has been pressing on me greatly as of late. Why the heck did I get this stupid, useless Bachelor’s Degree? What good is a degree when I have no relevant experience? What good is having a lot of experience if I keep having to get more education to even attempt to rise up in a career?
Bottom line: the degree that I ended up getting (there were a few bumps and turns in attaining it) is one that I am truly interested. Psychology is a very fascinating and good field of study. But I sort of wish I had experiences in other things related to Psychology, just so I can escape child development.
Not that I dislike child development. It’s a subject that I can actually boast about not only knowing, but understanding. But there is more than just the straight hands on approach to child development that I’m doing right now. Is there a different approach that I could practice that wouldn’t give me so much stress and anxiety? Do I even really want to try a different approach?
I have made a lot of fuss over the stress of my job, but there are indescribable benefits of it as well. When I’m feeling extra lonely for whatever reason and a young child runs up to me, yelling my name and giving me a hug, my heart warms. When my head’s about to explode from all the babies crying and children start laughing and singing a song with me, I feel proud of myself. When I successfully complete small talk with a parent, I feel like an intelligent adult. When a child actually learns something I teach them, I feel accomplished.
But I haven’t felt completely fulfilled yet. Is that too much to ask?