A Fresh Start
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
So I wrote in my last post that I would provide an update on my academic situation on here at a later date and here it is. If you didn't know, I had been studying Occupational Therapy, a 3 year course, at the University of Liverpool. I started in 2016 and due to personal matters and health concerns in third year, I've had to complete my final placement at the beginning of a 'fourth' year and complete several re-sits.
I adore the principles of OT and their role in a patient's care, however the reality is quite different to the bread and butter and I found myself growing distant from it. I had initially thought that History or Teaching may have been another direction, but due to circumstances, I've chosen not go ahead with it. At the beginning of 'fourth year', I found myself questioning whether I really wanted to do OT and truthfully, the answer was no. OT as a profession can't afford to have people who only complete the job half-heartedly in order to have a job to sustain themselves or their family and on placements, I have sadly worked with people like this. However, I don't actually know what I'd like to do. My third year was a painful year and I think it also made me heavily reflect on who I truly am, what I treasure in life and what I like to do. I think I really had lost myself and hibernated, because I didn't really know any of those things, but I feel that this lockdown period has given me lots of free-time to really sit down, think and ask those questions.
We had a few sermons during lockdown that really looked at our 'dreams or purposes', as we studied Joseph and his journey in Genesis. God fulfils and brings fruit to Joseph's life, despite his suffering and circumstances (being sold to foreign land and imprisoned). God changes Joseph's character and situation to meet the purpose He has for him at the time - interpretation of dreams, Pharaoh's adviser, Prime Minister, Famine Relief. This made me really think about how I've changed, because of my experiences and circumstances; however, I still don't really have any idea on what 'my dream' is other than to 'help people'. They suggested looking at the skills we possessed, our interests, our personalities and our spiritual gifts, so I wrote some down. I like to get things done and serve/assist people, if it helps makes their life easier. I'd like to think I'm empathetic, sensitive, gentle and caring, that I'm a good listener and I'd also like to think that I can speak with some wisdom in certain situations (mainly rely on the Holy Spirit and its words for that one) and this kinda looks like 'helping people' right? (pls correct me if you disagree :p)
As I reflected on myself and why I wasn't like I used to be (extroverted, 'rough and tumble', chatty and active), it was peaceful knowing that God has shaped me to how I am now (introverted, sensitive, calm, a home-body) to fulfil a greater purpose than of one before, even though I don't quite know what it is yet. I know people have noticed (and commented on) the change, but it doesn't bother me at all. I now very much like the peace, quiet and the chilling, the intentional relationships, plus things like cooking, embroidery, drawing and working on my blog at home! Even in my serving at church/conferences - I definitely used to be a loud and active small-group leader, but these past two years, I've enjoyed more pastoral and administrative roles, and I'm thankful for those opportunities, where I really found comfort, joy and a sense of activity/purpose.
I struggled with the idea of not doing what I had studied, I was fearful of not graduating and I was afraid of disappointing my parents. I admit, there was definitely a sense of pride - OT sounds professional, you have a degree, it's likely to give you stability and security, you have a good starting salary; and there was also a massive fear of embarrassment or judgement - everyone else seems to manage their degrees alright and get 1st or a 2:1, but I'm the only one really who couldn't pass even when I worked really hard. There was a lot of "Maybe I'm just not very clever; Maybe I just don't have the knack for it; Maybe it's just not meant to be?" My thoughts were that if I didn't graduate: I wouldn't have a degree, any job security or life stability, my parents would be disappointed and I even thought that it'd make my boyfriend look bad! However, the door was pretty much closing, I became really exhausted/fed-up/resentful/frustrated after my third re-sit and all I could do was pray to let 'Jesus take the wheel', even more than I thought I was doing. Plus isn't three a significant number in the Bible?
I found out that I have enough credits to achieve a BSc Health Science, that I would still be able to attend a graduation ceremony (two years late, but hey!) and still be able to find a job in the NHS, if I wanted to. This led me to look at administrative jobs i.e. Medical Secretary, Department Administrators, Ward Clerking - and really, this is what I like to do and I feel these roles are greater suited to my aim, my personality and my skillset. A lot of job opportunities have arisen, my stress levels have shrunk massively and for the first time in a long time - I feel confident and not so lethargic anymore. My parents (slowly) accepted that this was potentially more appropriate for me, my boyfriend gave me his full support and my best friends also shared how they were fully on board with this new opportunity. God was good, loving and faithful through the response I received towards my decisions, there was really no question from most of the people I spoke to.
A very dear sister of mine recently told me that "Everything you've always wanted to do or looked to do is to help people," and it surprised me that she had noticed this, because I've never actually told anyone really. I explained to her how I almost felt embarrassed or judged that I didn't want to be an OT or a health professional anymore and she said to me "You can help people in so many other ways, it doesn't have to be the forefront, like a health professional. There are so many other sectors where you will 'still help people', people just don't know them; they're recognised in their own right!"
So, at the moment - I'm graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Health Science (which is way more than I thought I could achieve), I'm waiting back on job applications and I'm currently completing my OCR RSA Level 2. My plan at the moment is to head in this direction and then see what happens next - there's a feeling that I won't stay in this field forever, but right now, it seems to be where God is nudging me towards. It's scary, but right now, I CHOOSE TO TRUST and give all glory to Him, just as Joseph did. If God was faithful to and used Joseph and his situation was probably way way worse than anything I've suffered, I know and continue to pray that God will be faithful to me (and you!) too, for He only has good prepared.