I'm in a strange room, with strange people; furtive smiles, self conscious shuffling, some random chatter and embarrassed silences. It is the start of my new course 'An introduction to counselling'. There is no tribal coherence, a wide range of ages and styles. The teacher arrives early and apologises for being late, I feel like a school girl again as we rearrange the furniture in some bazaar table Tetris. Everything is in hushed tones.
I have no idea what to expect, but it is a departure. It could be another dog leg, a dead end or the start of a new career. My only aim is to come away knowing the questions that I need to ask so that I can further research my quest of what I want to do when I grow up.
Heavy irony, I may still be asking that question when I retire as my so called career has had more false starts that a sprint race at a shooting range.
Avoiding eye contact smile and look down at the shoes. Shoes are no mirror to the soul only sole, so here is the tally.
Trainers 6 pairs - one pop art they're
Mary Janes 2 pairs
Sensible lace ups 1 pair
Court shoes 5 Paris, from navy mid heal to red now ballerina style
Healed leather boots 4 prs
Leather clogs (soft sole) 1 pair
Lecturer - sensible black, soft flat Mary Janes
I start the session full of certainty. Asking questions, certain of answers, voicing opinions. My only internal dialogue at this stage is querying the talking: listening ratio; comparing myself in this verses previous social settings.
We do some listening, answering, observing in groups of three. My confidence never falters. I enjoy drilling down into the answers, not offering opinions but delving for more information. I am never stuck for what to say next, enjoying the dance.
The final plenary and my certainty dissolves into the abyss of my soul. I ask about the logistics of our quest to become counsellors, the viability of jobs, the cost of training, details, details WILL YOU PLEASE GIVE ME DETAILS!
A voice pipes up, saying that there is no certainty, no guarantees that any course will give you jobs "people who do masters and PHDs end up working in clothes shops". The pervasive question is 'how does it make you feel' and that comment about uncertainty made me feel threatened and insecure, I attributed aggression to the speaker. 'Yes', I counter 'but within any decision making process you have some parameters based on the odds or the risks involved'. The Lecturer skilfully returns me to my safe zone by a comment that we never know where we will end up. She seems to be using the skills for her day job so well, but is does NOT ANSWER THE BLIMIN QUESTION of what are the odds of this being another dead end, desperado leap of faith.
Suddenly my world comes to rest again, I see the genesis of my emotions. Every ten years I have jumped out of one career into another, all enthusiasm with initial success only to be find myself out on a limb again, emotionally and financially as I find that is is another great meander. I appreciate my career as tangentially building on experience, making me who I am with a range of highly valuable skills just waiting to be harnessed.
I feel embarrassed and isolated by speaking up, having hoped that I was asking generic questions of use to the whole group I now feel isolated. I left feeling unsteady, hollow and misunderstood. I reanalyse my group contributions, was I trying too hard always to speak up but then mitigate the individuality of my questions. My rational soul appreciated that I am doing this course for my career and livelihood not as a popularity test. Instead I have just hurled myself into an emotional maelstrom.
I come back home and chat about the experience. the Hubster applauds my rationale and the line of my enquiry, I smile as appreciate how he influences my actions - not an entirely bad thing. I can also appreciate and understand my range of emotions. I expect tonight will be a little restless, but in the interests of this potential career I think appreciating my emotions and the reasons behind them can only be worthwhile. I do need to answer the logistical questions, but whatever the outcome it will be an interesting journey and that should offer its own reward.