Yesterday I was at a school to talk with teachers and watch some students with learning disabilities. While waiting for my first meeting, two employees sat talking about a school-event they had been on the day before. It was an event for parents, students and teachers where they talked about eastern and religion. When there, one of the teachers started to say that Jesus was still alive! In addition to that, they told me it felt like she was preaching. While I listened, I automatically started to validate their feelings of annoyance. But after a while, I realized that I was actually participating in something I rather not be involved in: Judging a person I did not even know based on hearsay. After realizing this, I did manage to ask what they thought was the reason for her behavior.
Afterwards I was observing a child with behavioral problems. I could see how his class-mates responded when he was close. They automatically drew back a little, and he ended up sitting alone. The only time he got some attention was when he was angry, or when he was making jokes about something or someone.
Afterwards, we had a meeting to discuss what I just had seen and the teacher told me about another meeting they just had. The meeting was about children with behavioral problems, and she told me how touched she was when she heard other teachers talking about what they recently had learned on a course: That there are no “problem” children. There is just a person, struggling to adjust and be happy.
We so easily categorize things as good or bad, and everything becomes black or white. Luckily we stop every now and then and realize that we must try to adjust what we think. To see all sides of the equations. But that is not enough. We must be able to speak our minds, when we see that something is one-sided or biased. This is really difficult, though. Right now I am motivated to be able to transfer what the teacher told me, to different schools. But I have been at schools where frustration takes hold, and the teachers rather just want us psychologist to fix the problem. I just hope I am brave enough to speak my mind and not fall into the black-or-white trap.
Right now I am struggling to adjust. A new job means thousand small differences that all must be brought together in a new way. My room-mate told me: the people who manage to survive, are those who are able to adapt. Some of the differences I have to adjust to, is more tasks of a different kind. I also must learn to work with children and the system, instead of long-term therapy with traumatized adults. I must learn to remember more practical information, like when the children got extra help in class and which subjects they like and dislike. I must learn to use different types of questionnaires and tests and focus on school instead of how they suffer psychologically. This also mean that I must put aside time to reflect and rest my head, like I do when I write. Instead of rushing from one task to another, making mistakes along the way as I forget things, I must take a breath and ask myself questions: what did I just learn? How can I remember the phone call I will have to take? How did it feel to feel a bit stupid since I couldn’t answer a question about what a dyslexic child needs?
By giving myself time, I am able to enjoy what I’m doing. I can appreciate the newness of it all by realizing that this is a chance to broaden my knowledge-base and understand even more about the complexity of our minds. Learning new things can be so frustrating, but the reward when we finally get where we wished we were from the begin with, is even higher since we had to struggle a bit with it. And the best of all: by being mindful about the process I’m going through, I’m more able to understand how it must be for children with different cognitive disadvantages to learn something new.
I have been nervous for weeks now. My job hunt started two months ago, and since then I have written for applications, been on four interviews, gotten two rejections and waited for the two last one. The last interview was in Bergen on Thursday. I was one of 46 applicants for 5 positions, and one of 14 people who got an interview. Yesterday everything felt a bit hopeless. I thought I had to start the job search process again, and even wrote to my supervisor to see if somebody had called him as a reference (nobody had). So mentally I prepared for swallowing the disappointment and start all over again.
I left work at 15:30 and went to the supermarket to buy some food. I had just bought the groceries when the phone rang. It didn`t even hit me that it could be a job offer, as it was after work for me and I thought I would get a call at the normal work hours. When she presented herself as the woman who interviewed me on Thursday, I wanted to shout out in happiness. I got the job! Even better: It is in Bergen, where I studied to become a psychologist. I have hoped, for years now, that I could go back there. I am not sure if it will be forever, since I have a job here that I might go back to, but I need to take one year with children to become a psychologist specialist, and there is no better place to do it than in Bergen. The job was also the one I wanted the most: They have a huge group of people working there, with many activities after work to bond and create a good atmosphere. I also liked the fact that four new psychologist will start at the same time as me, because it will make it easier to start when I have others who have to learn as much as me. I also have a lot of friends in Bergen, and it will be so good to see them again. I can also do more of what I love to do: Take singing and piano lessons (I haven`t been able to do that the last three months since I moved home after selling my apartment) and work together with musicians to make my own song. There are simply more opportunities in Bergen, and I know it will be good to begin a new phase in my life.
Last week I got the phone call. Would I be interested to come to a job interview? The job is in a little city 3 hours away from here, as a community psychologist. The job description is working with youngsters from 7-18 years old, and it will entail education of health personnel who work with children and families with problems. I really want this job, so am quite nervous before the interview. I practiced together with my supervision last week, and found I lost my words quite often. What are my worst qualities? How will I contribute to the well-being of the children? How will I react when I have to go against the parents wishes because they don’t see the problem? Some questions are hard to answer because I don’t always have a firm opinion about what they want to know. What is most important, though, is to get my enthusiasm out there. I want to help others, and the reason for really wanting this job is that it will be all about early stage treatment. I will have the chance to focus on prevention and not just healing after people have suffered for years. I also like the fact that I’ll have the chance to work together with people from different occupations, like nurses, teachers and politicians. I will be able to contribute with what I know about psychology on a community level, and this has truly been a dream for me. So cross your fingers for me!