“Who/what do you want to be when you grow up?” seems to be the classic question asked of children, typically starting sometime in elementary school. It carries on throughout life, turning into, “what do you want to major in” and also “what would you do with that degree?”.
For as long as I can remember, all of the careers that I’ve wanted to do or have considered doing, center around helping others. The careers and areas were things like teaching, non-profit organizations, working in a restaurant to feed others delicious food, teacher, etc. (except for the phase where I wanted to be a jockey…but we don’t need to go there). When I was in college, which I only attended for the first two years of undergrad, I was studying to become an early childhood ed teacher. I loved it, but recently I’ve been considering that it may not be the best choice for me.
I want to major in a field where I feel like I have a wider range of options, post graduation. So, my current plan, for when I return to school, is to major in social work! I have a huge passion for the field of study and can explore many of my interests through it. I can work within child welfare, school social work, public welfare, Justice/Corrections, on and on…and my ultimate goal of mental health/counseling!
Overall, I want to enter into work within the mental health profession. However, I don’t want to major in psychology, especially at the moment, when my entire life is psychology (hah). My biggest goal is to give back to others through counseling, particularly in the field of eating disorders, as well as substance abuse (which is often co-occurring).
It is, of course, quite clear to me that my own recovery has to take precedence before I can begin to help others who struggle with mental illnesses. So, for now, I am focusing on ways to really achieve within my own recovery, so that I can take that knowledge into a future of helping others. I have been helped immensely, by several role models through my recovery that also went through the process. One of my absolute heroes is BM who works at IDC and recovered from bulimia. She has shared some of her experiences with me, and it’s been a huge help and inspiration for me. I would love to do the same for others, post recovery.
Mental illness is something that is so stigmatized to this day. I want to work with individuals to improve their lives and help them thrive while living with their struggles, as well as work within various areas to promote education, awareness, and change in the community, about the different facets of mental health. I think it is fair to say, once people who are dealing with/have dealt with mental illnesses recover than they have experiences that can benefit them others in ways others would not have gotten.
To put it simply here is a picture of what the profession of social work truly is…