Posts tagged counseling nashville
It's All about Perspective.. Ready to Dance in the Rain?
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One of my favorite things about being a therapist is that I can change things up, be different, unconventional.  One simple way of doing that is that I love to meet at a park, greenway, wherever and take in the scenery during session.  Who says you need a couch? Or a roof for that matter.


One thing I learned recently though is that you need to check the weather. 


During a recent adventure out of the confines of the office and at a park I heard an interesting noise... like a woosh you only hear on movies.  As my lovely walking partner and I soon realized, there was not just a light rain coming..... it was a monsoon!  The perfect summer storm coming to wash away the heat and refresh the world with its power….. like almost every afternoon in Nashville these days!  It was a surreal moment in time where you could literally watch across the lake as the wall of water was coming toward you.  T minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... wham!!! 


Now I am not the most laid back person in the world, and one thing I HATE is having wet hair (and I guess clothes for that matter).


Perspective though friends.  The weather in Nashville is warm, we were hot from walking, it was fun!  Instantly we were 8 years old again running from the rain and laughing, succumbing to the inevitable fate that could not be changed.  I was going to have wet hair, be dripping wet, and apologizing for such an unconventional session. 


When I starting thinking about the significance of this event and ENJOYING the perspective I found in this moment I could think about another time in my life when I had to work much harder to find the same perspective. 


Several years ago in graduate school our class let out  and I got in my car to start my 1 hour commute home.  I pulled out of the parking lot at nearly 9 pm and was making a left hand turn to the road that led me to the interstate.  I had been on campus long enough, and it was a bitter and cold day, and my window had iced.  At the stop sign I rolled my window down to look for oncoming traffic and safely make the turn.  I causally went to roll up the window of the car and IT DID NOT BUDGE.  Much to my dismay no matter what I tried the window would not go up.  And I had an hour left on the interstate in freezing cold, spitting rain and sleet.... with the window down???.  I frantically called my husband (because he is magic and can fix it over the phone... right?) and got the answer I did not want to hear, but was the only logical one…. "Well.... what do you want me to do about it?"


So, I put on my big girl pants, wrapped my scarf around my hands on the steering wheel, turned up the heat and my favorite radio station and made the trek home.   My eyes watered, my hands froze, and all for the sake of perspective, my heart warmed.  During my trip I thought of those who were unable to return to a warm house after a cold night, of those who's troubles were bigger than a broken window. 


I arrived home, to an open garage door, and warm hot chocolate and a terrified husband.  When I simply got out of the car laughing and telling him how thankful I was for my blessings I might have scared him more than if I had had the perspective of anger.  "Are you alright?", he asked, "I was not expecting you to be laughing."


I wish I could say that I always have these giggling, thankful, perspectives, but I don't.  If anything they are much more the minority.  But, hardly any of us do.


We can not control the rain on a walk, a broken window, or the temperature outside any more than we can control the tragedy and disappointments that we encounter in our daily lives.  We can however explore our perspective, our reaction and use that as a gauge.  Are we in a place we can change our perspective? 

Could you use a little extra support? 


Because this is where change can happen.  In the way we view things, in the way we experience things, but only if we allow ourselves to recognize the need for a change in our perspective.

 

I for one am going to work on this.   What about you?

-Mary Ann


The College Reality

by Mary Ann Sokolowski

How many times do our expectations get squashed by reality? I'm not even talking solely our own expectations, but those created by society. Societal "normal" of what a period of time in your life will be like, or what a holiday or life event will bring. Let's look at one biggie:

"College will be the best years of your life!"

What if we didn't have this pressure, these expectations, and got to experience things for ourselves? How do they turn out? The issues I see are when our experiences don't align with what is expected, and we have to wade through the reality seemingly alone.

What if college is not ALWAYS the best time of your life? Its a time in life when we struggle to (warning: cliche) find out who we are. There are days when we fight to be an adult, days we crave childhood, want responsibility, want someone to tell us what to do, rage against someone telling us what to do, then cry when we have to make a decision on our own. One day we know what we want to do, the next day you have no clue. You change majors. You regret changing majors. You want to make money, you struggle with humanity. Someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, you stare at them blankly and all you want to say is (to put it nicely), "How the heck am I supposed to know?"

Confusing? Absolutely. Understandable? Yes.

Now some people might have the experience where college is the best of their life, but it is not a fact. Will you and can you have a lot of fun, find your path and purpose in life and miss college when it is over? Sure. But in that you are prepping and figuring what your plan will be the rest of your life. And that is a tall order.

We as humanity crave stability. Crave relationship. Hate not being able to answer "simple" questions about ourselves like, "So what's your major?".

So what if people were real in their parting words as you move into your dorm for college. What if you were told that college can be, and will be at times, a lot of times- a blast. Fun for days (sometimes all night). College will open doors to new ideas and new people, new relationships and new opportunities that you would never imagine. You will be foolish, and irresponsible, or responsible and holed up in the library while holding down two jobs, but there will be people in same boat where ever you go. There will also be stress, and feelings of isolation and the unknown. You will be scared and overwhelmed and lost and not know your path. You might fail at things, you might get perfect scores. You will question and regret and want your mom. You will go home for your first holiday and see your family and friends and it will be great, but eventually home will feel less like home, and you will start to move forward with a new place of belonging. You will battle, and explore and fight and make your place in the world. Realistically you might not find career of a lifetime on your first try. But you can dream and pursue and are allowed the opportunity.

What if you were told a greater sense of reality about "the best years of your life"?

Recently evidence has shown how anxiety in high school and college students is sky rocketing. Suicide rates are increasing. Mental Health for college students is declining, or at least coming to light. The reality is being on your own and having to face life in a new way is hard. Life transitions of any kind are hard, and with college you are moving, making a new friends, tracking down your path in life, preparing to "be an adult" and fearful of the future. Student loans are just another overwhelming reality that complicates things even further.

Here in Nashville we have Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, and just down the road MTSU just to name a few. The cost is hefty and the pressures are high.

If you are in college, its ok. Its complicated, it hard, its wonderful, its confusing. Its anxiety. Its stress. Take care of yourself. Seek help, go to counseling, allow yourself to be real and vulnerable.

If you are not in college, be understanding for those that are. Yes, they have a "wonderful" life, but is comes with struggles of its own. Lets be sensitive to that.