Growing up, when you imagined what life would be like when you were twenty-five, images of a wedding, children, a big backyard with a fluffy dog running around, and a steady job all came to mind (at least they did in my fantasy-filled little brain). The reality is, I still feel like a kid on most days. The only image little Jen predicted correctly was the fluffy dog, but he’s running around our small one-bedroom apartment instead of the big fantasy backyard.
Life is unpredictable, and that’s okay.
At twenty-one years old, I had graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Psychology. I thought I might have an idea of what I wanted to do post-graduation, but honestly… I had no earthly idea. I imagined a career where I could positively impact the lives of children, but I had a Psychology degree. I didn’t want to be a psychologist. Or a teacher. So what did I do? What any sensible young adult would do, of course. I entered into an impossible job market hoping any place would hire me so I could start paying off my debt [tuition ain’t cheap, ya know]. After a year of paying rent to live in my former college town, working a job that I dreaded every day, I made the decision to move back home so I could save some money and figure out what in the world I was going to do with my life.
I was scared to death and embarrassed of my “failure”.
I found a job where I was pretty happy. Mostly because my co-workers became my second family and I made good money pretty quickly. Yes, at twenty-three years old, with a Bachelor’s degree, I was a waitress. Life kept happening, time kept passing, and I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. I applied for several jobs in several different cities, and I finally had an interview with a company doing something I would have been completely terrible at. And then I got a second interview. The day of my second interview, while browsing for jobs in Louisville, Kentucky, I saw a posting for a job as a child life specialist. I was curious, I had never heard of it. Of course, I wasn’t qualified for the position, but to satisfy my curiosity I started doing a little digging. After finding the Child Life Council’s Website and talking with a close friend who worked as a nurse at the hospital that had posted the position, I just knew.
Long story short – I decided to follow my gut. I had a strong intuition that I was onto something that would be life-altering. Terrifying? Yes. I made the decision that a second Bachelor’s degree was the right decision for me at that point in my life as opposed to a Master’s degree. My heart was pulling me in one direction and I decided to follow.
Was I crazy? Possibly. It’s been quite an adventure, and I am so happy to have found not only a career path I am passionate about, but an incredible program to teach me everything I need to learn to get there.