A while back (November actually), I started a series of posts on how I got here. By “here” I mean how I got to the point where I’m generally accepting of the fact that not everyone is meant to have just one job that they go to 9-5 for twenty years. How I got to the point where I actually accept and usually embrace that who I am is someone who will never have just one full-time job, but will have many different income streams that will come and go with the tides.
So last we left off, I was one of just three people in my class o f thirty-six to have a physical therapist job upon graduation. And every single one of my thirty-five classmates knew the last thing I wanted to do in life was work as a physical therapist. Why? Well, that’s a bit of a complicated question. At the time, I genuinely thought I didn’t want to actually be a physical therapist. In hindsight, I now know that it wasn’t that I didn’t like PT, it’s that I liked so many other things too and didn’t want to pick just one. But no one had told me yet that it was possible to live a fabulous life without having a 9-5 job.
So I did as was expected and started my part-time physical therapy job. I came home every day and cried. Well, sometimes I didn’t make it home. I went to the county park at lunch and cried on a park bench. Secretly hoping to see my ex-boyfriend who worked there, which I did. But that’s another story.
It wasn’t that the job was so bad. It wasn’t at all by most accounts. My co-workers were happy people willing to help me at any time. My patients liked me and got better. The setting had all the latest equipment. The problem? It was my first post-college job and I felt lost. Up until that point I’d worked in PT settings with a supervisor to talk to. Here, the place was so busy I barely had time to think. I took to talking into a tape recorder between patients so I could remember at the end of the day who I did what with when it came time to write notes – if there was time to write notes. And though everyone said they’ d be happy to help me, I felt that they were entirely too busy to help. In hindsight, I should have asked to sit down with a senior PT once a week to review my caseload and make sure I was on track with my treatment plans. But it was my first job out of college and I thought I was supposed to know it all. Oh what a relief to have since learned you never know it all and it’s okay to ask questions.
Funny, even, that ten years later I have done more things that I had zero experience in without a problem! No degree, no background, just a desire – I’ve lost track of the number of times that’s been my work situation by choice.
But I was young and inexperienced with the working world. To her credit, my mom told me to do just what I mentioned above – ask to meet with someone once a week. I never did. Instead, two months after starting the job, I resigned. It was the first of many jobs from which I’d resign over the next ten years. I can’t recall what I said or any of the feelings I felt. You know how you do something so much you don’t remember anymore what it felt like the first time? That’s me and resignations.
My boss took it all in stride. To this day, whenever he sees me about town, he will always introduce me as “the girl with the shortest PT career ever.” I can laugh now, but it was nothing but tears back then.
What prompted me to leave? Well, I had worked as a Park Ranger a few summers before and was still in touch with my old boss there. He always wanted me back, but PT internships took up my summers. I was at the park chatting with him one day and he told me how one of his seasonals was leaving and, once again, asked if I wanted a job. I don’t think he thought I’d take him up on it – now that I had a degree and license to practice something completely different. But he was wrong. I did the math. Because if I was going to quit my first PT job, I’d need to make it okay with dad, and dad’s language is money. I figured out that working full-time at the park would earn me the same as working part-time as a PT. So I resigned and went back to work as a Park Ranger.
No, dad wasn’t happy. In situations like this, we tell mom first. She then preps dad for the news, sometimes delivering it herself. Having had more experience with him, she handles his incredulous looks and angry stammering so that by the time we get to him he’s not necessarily adjusted, but has calmed just a tiny little bit.
I dug out my old gray and green uniform, found my signature Park Ranger hat, and went back to work at a job I loved. But most park jobs are seasonal. My season ended in December, 1999. But by that time, I had my next adventure all planned out….