Q: Dear Susie, I am a sensitive person. Lately I have been opening up even more spiritually and I am having trouble working the same job as before. I would love to make a career change but feel that I would need to go back to college to do any of the things that I would like to do. I would like to do something that enriches the lives of others, especially work with children and animals. Going back to college and working on a degree feels very restrictive to me (not to mention expensive). I’m scared to take that back-to-school leap, what do you suggest? Thank you in advance for your time and effort.
A: There may be a difference between going to college and getting an education, don’t you think? College isn’t for everyone. I personally loved college, but I admit I am somewhat of a geek in that regard, because I have always loved the school setting, the rules, the regulations, the formal setting, the deadlines, the grades (I know, crazy, isn’t it?).
But what’s right for one person is definitely not right for another, especially seeing how you’ve been out of school for some time, and am used to the “real” world.
You mention wanting to do something that helps others, but that does not necessarily translate to going back to a formal school setting. It means being able to find meaningful work, then have the opportunity of advancement within that field, if you so choose.
I know a lot of people who don’t have college degrees and are very successful. Conversely, I also know a lot of people with college degrees who can’t find work.
So maybe it would be helpful to drop that thought of needing college and really take a look at yourself, your life, and your gifts.
What are your gifts, you wonder? Well, I’ll start with a short list, and you keep adding to it, all right?
1. You yourself said you’re sensitive. You have empathy for others, and are always gentle and mindful of people and what’s going on in their lives. This is a beautiful gift.
2. You’re also highly intuitive, but direct that more outwardly to help others, and second-guess yourself a lot (“I’m feeling I should really take that trip, but maybe I’m just wishful thinking…”), and in fact think others know more than you do (about other things and about your own life—not true).
3. You’re highly creative (are you writing these down?), and get really excited when you’re given a problem, because then you can find a fresh, new solution that’s never been thought of before—that energizes you.
4. You’ve got a goofy sense of humor - when I “look” at you, I’m seeing you with your head cocked to one side, and that tells me you see things from a different angle than most, and you can see the humor in a lot of things that others can’t. That gift has gotten you through a lot of rough times in your life.
5. You are totally committed to the human race. Your motto is, “How can I make this world a better place?” With this kind of burning desire, you are definitely on the right track.
What advice then, can I possibly give someone who’s so wealthy in gifts? There is a possibility that you don’t see yourself the way I see you. If that’s true, then you’ll always limit yourself and your options.
1. Take the time to just be with yourself. Sit. Breathe. Let your soul talk to you, help you, guide you.
2. Write down any “hits” or suggestions you receive (and don’t second-guess yourself). There are a multitude of possibilities for education out there, and I couldn’t possibly go into all of them here, but some include volunteer work, internship, on-line classes, weekend workshops, various trainings for healing work (Reiki, healing touch, aromatherapy, reflexology, hypnotism, visualization, to name just a few), calling people in the line of work you’re interested in and asking them questions (“How did you get started? What kind of training did you receive? Any helpful advice you wish you’d known when you were getting started? Can you help me?”).
3. Make a list (I’m big on lists). Entitle the first one “I am,” then just start writing. This will get you thinking in terms of your basic soul makeup. What are you here to do? What’s your purpose in life? Start to look for some similarities or continuity between your answers—is there a pattern?
Maybe the signs are pointing toward you becoming a yoga instructor for the elderly? Or maybe you’ll design a special camp to empower children? Only you will know. But I guarantee you that once you focus in on who you really are, what your strengths are, and why you’re here, there will be no stopping you, because you are very powerful.
But I have to be honest—I’m not seeing traditional college in your future. It takes too long, and requires that you take too many other classes you’re not interested in, and you want to get started—now! And it is expensive - an average four years of college is costing around $100,000, not including books, food, or extra fees.
There are a lot of spiritual people like you around that are having trouble with the college system as it is currently set up. Why? Because it doesn’t seem to cater to a broad enough range of needs. And that’s okay, because it still fills a need for many people.
But there are several other options, which I’ve already mentioned. Maybe try some of the things listed above, and see what comes up for you.
Best of wishes to you on this important step, and please keep me posted—I’m curious to see what fabulous things you’ll do for the world!
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