Change cracks everything open

So it seems that our fortunes in Portland have shifted yet again, and my and Tom’s plan to stay another year after I graduate next fall will most likely fall by the wayside. We both really love the city, and in some ways, it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived (of course, I’ve only lived in 5 places), but neither of us especially want to stay here long-term. We both want to go back to Austin, probably sooner rather than later, but we’re leaving our options open.

Tom is steadfastly preparing to apply to graduate schools for a PhD program for next fall, which could basically take us anywhere (I’m crossing my fingers for UT or somewhere in North Carolina, but I’m open). I’ve also made a few tentative decisions of my own. I’ve been struggling with the idea of going on and pursuing my own PhD in Counseling, but I haven’t been super excited about it. There are several reasons for this, too nuanced and boring to go into here, but one decision I think I’ve made recently is that I’m no longer sure I want to focus primarily on therapy as a future career goal. I know, I know, it’s all I’ve talked about going on 4 years now. I still very much want to be involved in the mental health industry, but maybe in a slightly different capacity, with just doing some counseling on the side.

I’m not sure that sitting in a room by myself listening to people talk all day long is the best thing for me. I’m a social creature by nature, a doer, I like to be involved and be in the middle of things. I thrive on being active, and useful, and collaborating. Which has been leading me to believe more recently that maybe a career in social work would be more up my alley. I love non-profits, and organizations, and groups of people coming together to do something, and advocate.

A friend of mine here just started PSU’s combined Master’s in Social Work/Master’s in Public Health program, and I’ll be really anxious to hear what he thinks about it. Public Health is something in which I’ve become very interested in lately, but in a social welfare sense, not a medical sense. A degree like that would prepare me to manage or run non-profits, among many other things. I guess what I need to find out is whether or not a degree like that would really be necessary to work in the upper echelons of community service groups. I suppose it couldn’t hurt, regardless.

I enjoy doing therapy, but in the grand scheme of things, what most helps combat my inner darkness and despair at the fate of the world is being active. This is something I have discovered about myself over the past year or so. It’s good to know. I’m often completely overwhelmed by my own feelings of inadequacy or powerlessness, and in no small way, enriching my own community is a nice balm for that.

I’ve mostly given up on politics, especially at the federal level, to do anything meaningful to make the world a more equitable, hospitable, and kind place to live. It’s not going to happen. But if I can help make the place that I live kinder, gentler, and existing maybe just a little easier for a few people, perhaps my battered idealism can survive – bruised and tattered, but still flying proudly.

Not that I don’t think counseling alone can do that, but organizational power gets me excited. I’m not sure I’m ready to turn around and go back to school yet right away next year, but it’s something I’m looking at. When Tom figures out for sure where he’s applying, I’ll look there as well and see what’s on offer. Right now I’m still trying to just live in the moment, working a lot, spending a lot of hours at my internship, and enjoying myself.


3 responses to “Change cracks everything open

  1. hey ryan!

    did you know the organizational track mirrors one year of an MPAdministration program so you’d only have to go one more year for a second master’s degree? talk to dr. thomas about it! i could see you getting involved in advocating for clients and working at a systems level

  2. Thanks, Kadie, that’s good to know! I’ll look into it.

  3. Hey Ryan,
    I think you can do an MSW in one year with what you’ve already got..I know my program has that option. You’d be as credentialed and can focus on community/public if you want..

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