life as i know it

"...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

Saturday, February 04, 2006

the path of deepest passion

Sometimes I wonder if I’m following the path of my deepest passion.

Since the age of seven or eight years old, I’ve never doubted my desire to enter the field of psychology. Even as such a young and fragile child, my perceptions were honed. Intuition is an innate blessing. So as I sat before various therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists, I could feel the intensity (or lack thereof) of their sincerity, their sensitivity, their true understanding. Unfortunately, what I often sensed in those early years was a complete lack of authenticity. So many times, I would be asked, “so how does that make you feel?” I have no recollection of my specific answers to those generic questions. But I can vividly recall what I wanted to say in response. I wanted to scream, to yell, to shout loud enough for everyone to actually hear me, “how do you think I feel? I’m here aren’t I? I obviously feel like shit or I wouldn’t be here.” As the years have passed and my own education in psychology has grown, I have come to understand that perhaps those therapists were doing what they had been taught. Perhaps they were truly trying to understand me. But my intellectual understanding of this does not negate the emotional repercussions of never truly feeling understood or accepted. However, I do not regret those early years of therapy or lack of growth and comfort I found in myself or in my relationships with those supposed healers. Through their inexperience or ignorance or lack of empathy, they harvested the beginnings of my most prominent lifelong dream. Because I did not perceive a sense of understanding or acceptance or authenticity, I vowed at a very early age to become a psychologist. I promised myself that I would use my own experience and my own intuition to guide me down the path towards helping others caught in the very cages of darkness and fear in which I myself had been imprisoned for so long. And so it is no surprise to me, or those that know me, that I have continued this journey, with determination and perseverance. These days, I continue my journey, working day after day, to learn how to help and heal those suffering from mental illness. I continue to inch forward, whatever the pace may be, in order that I may fulfill this dream. And this is my dream.

But what if this is not the most important dream for me? What about my other dreams, my other passions? How do I find the time and energy and balance to pursue them all?

I began writing poetry at the age of eleven. Mostly, my poems were comprised of rhyming lines, depicting my naïve and innocent perception of love. As the years passed, I continued to write, but my writing changed. From words of pure innocence to words of confusion and resentment, my poetry metamorphosed into the rambling monologues of a depressed and self-loathing adolescent. From lighthearted depictions of love’s simplicity to the darkness of black holes and dreams of death, the words I expressed on paper mirrored the evolution of my youth. Still, I never considered myself a writer. I wrote for release, nothing more. During college, my writing stopped for several years. I gave little thought to the power of words on paper as I doggedly pursued my degree in psychology and enveloped my remaining time in the social comfort and freedom of adulthood’s birth. Gradually, I came back to writing but I still viewed it as a mere release of emotions. I’ve always loved to write and somewhere inside me, I’ve long harbored the dream of publishing my work one day. But with my dream of becoming a psychologist taking center stage, my dream of becoming a successful writer got lost in the background. It has only been in these past couple of years that I have come to recognize the power of the passion I feel for writing. Now, in my free time, I immerse myself in books and journals and paper. I read printed words with a hunger I have not felt for many years, desperate to ingest all the beauty and emotions of each word I read. I find myself reluctant to study or sleep, fearing that the passion will dissolve if I leave it alone for one more moment. And so I find myself wondering, is this a lesser dream than the one I have actively pursued for the past decade? Or am I merely fooling myself, believing that this dream could ever possibly reach fruition?

I honestly do not know which dream is more important to me. I do not know which passion is greater. All I do know is that my passion for being a psychologist and my passion for writing are both very real and very deep. As best I can, I shall pursue them both.


At 3:06 AM, Blogger megg said...

Hi there!

There really is no reason you should have to choose. I once went to the most amazing therapist who included colouring and artwork and writing into the sessions. Journalling and writing are so powerful, maybe you could use those to really help people.Who knows - you could revolutionize things! Just a thought. Sending happy thoughts.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Frankie said...

Sometimes I read your words and it's as though I could have written them myself (if I were a little wiser and more elequent like you). I'm not sure if you should have to pursue one dream over the other. I can tell, just from reading what you write, that you would be amazing at either, amazing at anything you put your mind to. You've certainly already helped me through your wisdom and your writing, so why choose one over the other? The truth is, you ARE a writer, because you write and because you love it. And you ARE a healer because you send these thoughts and love out into the world for all of us to read, to learn from. Do what's in your heart. When hearts are as genuine as yours, it's impossible to imagine that it will lead you astray.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Somnambulist Seeker said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog the other day. It still amazes (frightens?) me that people read it. :-)

Re: Your most recent post, I understand the dilemma. My "secondary" dream is pretty much the same. For reasons that I'm only just beginning to come to terms with, I steadfastly have blocked myself from pursuing my writing for years. I suspect (as others have already commented) that the next step will be to see this dream as an "and" not as an "or" proposition vis a vis other dreams.

I think there's room for all of it. We too easily accept the conventions of self-limitation that are deemed "normal" by the world around us.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Alexandra G said...

No you are definitely NOT fooling yourself that you can be a writer too! There are many therapists who are writers too writing poetry, psychology, fiction. I love Irwin Yalom, for one example, who writes so eloquently about his actual work. Its almost like reading fiction now that I think about it.
As a therapist myself who also wants to write, I know what you are toiling with as I am completely in the same boat. In the long road of grad school and now finishing up my hours for my license, studying for the exams, writing took a backseat, and part of me really regrets it, esp as my best friend since college didn't pursue anything but writing and now has a series of her childrens books coming out starting next year. I sometimes wish I had devoted all this energy just to writing instead of being a therapist, but I also know that I am doing good work with my clients and HOPEfully can go into private practice relatively soon and work less hours/have more time to write. We have to squish the writing into our days or at least I know I feel like I am abandoning myself. So, lets keep writing no matter what!

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

You have warmed my heart with your comments and consider you my friend.

You have been given many gifts that I have seen in your words. Empathetic, passionate, intuitive, loving, smart and a fantastic way with words!

I see you being a therapist, traveling, helping those in need and writing about it all. I look forward to seeing it all come together.

Much love and encouragement! XXOO

At 3:28 PM, Blogger megg said...

P.S. Check out my site - Alexandra has started a new game of tag & I tagged you!!

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Jessie said...

well, it seems to me that your two passions, psychology and writing, go hand in hand--a perfect match actually. writing is a tool to share your gifts and insights.

i know what you mean though--having more than one passion can be so overwhelming! it's the same for me with painting and writing. most of the time i feel like i'll never live long enough to do all the things i want to do. then again, i guess that's better than getting bored!

At 5:39 PM, Blogger TJ said...

This world has a great need for both. My step sister has her masters in psychology, her drive is for helping children. having four of her own helps...I am sure. Art is a useful tool.
Follow your desires, time passes quickly.{{ Hug}}

At 8:48 AM, Blogger baylor said...

You are doing a truly amazing job at are an inspiration to everyone that knows you!


At 5:41 PM, Blogger Wenda said...

Tara Dawn, I admire your dedication and pursuit of both your passions. I, too, once wanted to be a psychologist and a writer, but I didn't hold fast to my dreams. I wasn't prepared for the obstacles and I didn't have enough faith to imagine such dreams coming true. I was simply not well enough resourced.

I see in you what I would like to have seen in myself and I think you are well on your way to fulfilling both your dreams and many more that may evolve.

I hope you have noticed how many pschologists have written great books too.


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