Nobody Tells You How Hard the Middle Is

It is easy to begin to move toward your goal! Some of you are ready to stone me for that remark but it is true. The start is easy. Once you find the motivation to change or take on some challenge, beginning is the easy part. The Bible tells us that the end of a thing is better than the beginning and that is because, the end only comes if you make it through the middle part. Many people begin a thing but few actually finish it to completion. If you don’t believe me, consider when you sign up for a class or classes. Most of the time the number of students at the beginning far exceeds the number at the end. How many began degree programs only to drop out in disappointment. Gyms and health clubs are also a good example. In January the parking lots and machines are full of motivated people,  ready to lose weight and get in shape but by February or March it is a different story. Also, dating relationships or especially marriage which begin with excitement and desire but often end due to loss of motivation and interest.

Well what happens? Are we that fickle in our choosing to begin something, only to find that we later have lost interest or were we just wrong to choose that thing or person to begin with? The answer is sometimes yes but often no. We begin with good intentions and often after much thought and prayer to move into a direction or relationship only to find that the uphill climb is too much for us. I want to leave you with a piece of wisdom which it has taken me many years to settle upon, “Every good thing in life will be incredibly hard!”. Nothing good will come into your life without struggle. Sometimes the struggle proves to be too much for us and causes us to give up but sometimes the struggle is an important element in the journey. I know, I hate that too but it is true. 

Those who know me know that I embarked upon a career/life change in 2011 to return to school to obtain a Master’s degree and become a licensed professional counselor. I believed at that time that if I could just graduate everything would come together as I truly believed I had determined my destiny. I felt peace about my decision although I knew that it was literally jumping off of a cliff in faith. I was too old to be embarking upon a new career; had no backup (as a single person); was in the latter years of raising my daughter as she was finishing high school; had no real connection between career one and this new career so I would have to literally start at the bottom; was not independently wealthy or looking to a trust fund to carry me. Nevertheless, I jumped!

School was a challenge, to say the least. Age was a factor, distance learning was a factor, working full time was a factor, one year of practicum and internship while working full time was a factor and additional challenges that seemed to freakishly come out of nowhere. In December, 2015 my degree was conferred and by January it was hanging on my wall. I had been led to believe that the agency with which I had spent the last year of my life interning was interested in having me come on with them permanently only to be disappointed right before graduation. Step two was the North Carolina licensing process, which can I just say is not for the faint of heart. I am still convinced that satan himself designed this process. There is the test, which is worse than the LSAT and MCAT put together and harder to get scheduled for than a meeting with the Pope. Oh and don’t get me started about the licensing process itself which is administered by a handful of very challenging and apparently challenged people at CCE in Greensboro and NBCC which is across the hall from CCE but they do not talk to each other unless I pay them additional money at every turn and push them by calling, emailing and snail mail until I put myself on their, Do Not Let in the Building list. Oh yes and professional liability insurance in case one of those wonderful clients decides to sue you because they don’t like how you carefully, ethically and thoughtfully handled them.

After losing my mind for four months and living on my credit cards and part time job, I finally got a license in April, 2016 and signed a lease for an office the same day. Now I call it an office but it was really a small office type space in a warehouse which was not known for its heating and air conditioning system but was known for its granddaddy long legs spider infestation. However, I had a license and an office, what could stop me from becoming the counselor to serve the underserved population of the middle class, who do not qualify for medicaid benefits nor can they afford the expense of counseling at regular rates so I charged half of the regular rates. I began the challenge of marketing myself by building a website, creating a Google ad, creating a profile andsigning up for Psychology Today’s website for advertising and hitting the area with brochures and cards (which I created).

I prayed, networked and envisioned clients waiting in my make shift waiting area. No one prepared me for the fact that helping people can put you in the poor house. People cancel at the last minute and don’t want to pay, people don’t come during holiday seasons, people want you to see them when they are in crisis but not regularly enough to pay your bills. Another factor that I became privy to once I began my business in one of the largest counties in North Carolina is that it also has the biggest population of counselors in the State and competition is fierce. I began applying for jobs with agencies and companies only to find the most unprofessional and rude “colleagues ” imaginable. Herding cats would be a cinch in comparison. Every interview I received left me scratching my head and one of typically 50+ applicants for each job. So I have turned my sites to becoming licensed in South Carolina since I am within walking distance of the border. I won’t share the equally frustrating process there which also includes the evil twins of CCE and NBCC. Let’s just say, it is the middle that almost kills you.

I hesitate to be this transparent but again, those that know me know this is part of my charm. Where does this leave me, in the middle!?! I interviewed for a lovely position last week, which will include a move closer to sand and surf which has always been a dream and goal and today I am waiting to hear back and yes I followed up. I heard two fabulous sermons last week about being in the middle and I know the end will be worth it but the middle is excruciatingly painful for everyone. If you find yourself there, don’t give up if it is something you really want and know that it is part of your destiny and drop me a comment. Pray for me and I will pray for you!

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