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Life Makes No Exemptions
A Mental Health Counselor's Transparency About Life
Most of you know that life's mishaps do not care about what your title or credentials are. Everyone goes through something that sends them to the verge of almost giving up. However, the beautiful thing about difficulties in life is that they have the power to either destroy you or evolve you...and, you get to CHOOSE. In the first issue of the Year 2021, I thought it would be a humbling experience to let you all know a little bit about the person who writes about mental health. My name is Marie and I am 35 years old. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in the State of Colorado. The things I have written about are things that I apply to myself and am familiar with. I believe that transparency is critical in encouraging and inspiring someone. Outside of my career, I am just a regular human being who is not exempt from life’s difficult challenges.
I am a person who came from nothing. Being born in the Philippines and experiencing poverty and abuse in childhood, not having either of my parents growing up, to being thrown in the foster system in California while still getting accustomed to a new country and its culture, to not having any directions and guidance in life. Then, experiencing divorce to becoming a single mom to homelessness. To top it off, my toxic behaviors and destructive thought-process blew up in my face and cost me opportunities and some valuable relationships. Reaching rock bottom and realizing that I am my worst enemy and am the very person holding myself back from growing and succeeding, I had to find strength and courage to get myself and my life together. Sure, I don’t have it all figured out, but who does? What I do know are things that helped me get myself out of the rut and getting to the life I desire.
Now, as a mother, a life-partner, a friend, and as a mental health therapist, here are the things that helped to use life’s mishaps as opportunities for growth:
The very first thing I had to do when I was in my darkest days was face myself. I had to look at myself without the rose-colored glasses and without comparing myself to others. It was me versus me. I had to see who I was then and needed to have a good look at who I want to become. I had to accept that some of the things I was comfortable doing and being must be let go to become who I want to be. Also, reminding myself that comparing does me no good and I must accept that the only competition I am in is to be better than I was before. Today, I still do the same and ask myself: what can I do to be better than I was yesterday?
2. Ask for Help
I did not like the idea of going to a therapist. I thought to myself, why would I talk to a stranger about personal things about my life? It sounded so silly. But I reached a point when I did not trust anyone. I also reached a point when I did not want to talk to anyone. I also reached a point when I did not want to live anymore. However, I would have to be honest and say that it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. Asking for help does not make us weak. It actually makes us stronger because it takes more strength to swallow pride, to be transparent, and to listen and be receptive to how you present yourself through your words and behaviors towards others. That’s what my therapist did, she helped me and continues to help me see myself, others, and situations from different angles while challenging me to be better. We all need someone’s professional, nonbiased, and nonjudgmental perspective of things to help us broaden our minds.
3. Find Something that is for You
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to do something for money or fame or to idolize someone and do what he or she may be doing, or even do what others want you to do. I’m not saying there is something wrong with that but what about what you want to do for yourself? I remember my dad telling me to be a nurse. I mean most Filipinos are nurses, so I get it. But I knew it wasn’t for me. My heart is not in it. It took me a while to figure out what I want to do in life so it’s okay if you are not there yet. I didn’t figure it out until I was 33 years old. I believe that we all have a purpose. I also believe that everything I went through in life is to help others get through them, and not go through them alone. Spend time with yourself and find what you like, what sparks your heart, and what makes you feel purposeful. Doing something that you love is far worth more than doing something that costs you unsatisfaction and false happiness.
I hope that these things help you on your journey. Remember that what you may be going through today is something needed to get you to where you need to be. Get into the habit of always asking yourself, “what lesson is this showing me about myself and how can I grow from this?”. Regardless of what others may say or do to you, discipline yourself to never give them the power to deter you from being a better version of yourself. And if and when you have bad days, take comfort in knowing that this is just a part of life and that you always have a CHOICE. Happy New Year and let’s kickstart this year with STRENGTH, CONFIDENCE, AND POISE.
Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate (LPCC)
State of Colorado