I can still remember the moment when I knew that being a therapist was the work I was meant to do. I was actually all of about 12 years old. I was standing in a group chatting at sleep away camp when another camper came over to us. She told us about a friend of ours who was homesick and crying in their tent. One of the girls offered to go and talk to her but was stopped by another girl. She told her “No, let Nicole go. She knows what to do.”
It was the first time in my life that I felt a sense of honest value. From as far back as I can remember I questioned my reason for being brought into this world. There was so much in my life that was painful and impossible for me to understand as a child. Somehow, I carried this certainty inside me that I knew there was a purpose for me. I knew that my experiences were leading me to something.
From as far back as I can recall, I felt the need to lend support to those around me. I definitely took on the classic role of the “caretaker” within my family. Among the chaos, I did everything I could to keep the peace and keep those I loved safe in any small way I could. I learned to listen and allow others to feel safe to share their stories.
When I realized I wanted to become a therapist, I was devoted to making it a reality in my life. I knew this was the work that would allow me to make a difference in the world around me in a positive way. I longed to help others possibly avoid years of suffering alone with their struggles and pain. I could also see a key piece to my own healing by learning about mental health and working on my own recovery.
There were many obstacles that made the process grueling and at times seemingly impossible. I was presented opportunities to change my course or take a short cut but I simply couldn’t. The desire to do this work was so strong that I knew I had to keep going and make it happen no matter what. Now that I have finally graduated and am on the verge of getting my career started, I know without a doubt it was all worth it.
However, I can see where this was my journey and despite my trials I was lucky to know my heart’s desire from the beginning. I know for many the pain of discovering one’s calling can be a long and stressful process. When it comes to clients in session, it is important to remember to be sensitive to each person’s individual journey. We must remember that many of them will be uncertain or feel held back from finding their path. It is up to us to give them the support they need to allow them to discover what makes their life meaningful for them. It is essential to remember that the joy is in the journey of our lives. As Omar Khayyam said, “Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life.”
Nicole Michaud is a Counselor in training in Central Connecticut. She is also the voice behind the cooking Blog MyLoveForCooking.com