June 24th (“The only thing we have to fear…”)

I was terrified of becoming a counselor.

Which is ironic, since that’s the graduate degree I’ve pursued since 2010.

But when my pre-practicum counseling course came, I had to face my fear of the counselor’s chair.

ImageWell, sure, it was a “pretend” counselor’s chair. The role plays that we did in class weren’t with actual clients yet. But I did have to sit there, with professor and classmates looking on, and try my best to be a counselor.

I was scared my best wasn’t good enough.

I made it through the introductory lectures fine, but when the night for role play came, I was curled up in my bed, in the dark, escaping through tearful sleep. I finally withdrew from the class.

I signed up for the same pre-practicum course again this summer.

I fought hard. I saw a counselor myself and worked through fears of criticism. I examined my irrational expectations of perfection. I practiced short role plays with my counselor (boy, was that a switch). And when I was afraid, my counselor asked me to remember why I wanted to do this.

I want to help people.

Mentally, I prepared and prepared. I could do this. I would not be perfect, but my little “failures” would grow and strengthen me as a counselor. I would learn. It was part of it. I would embrace it.

I wanted to be a counselor.

On June 24th, I made it through my first role play.

I still have more role plays to come. I still have my first session as a counselor with an actual client. Do I have a few lingering fears? A few tingling nerves? Yes. But come on. I want to get to that other side.

People have “role plays” to face. Maybe I can help some of them find their June 24th.

What “role play” do you face? When will your June 24th be?

Why You Need a Lindsay

You need a Lindsay. And I’m going to tell you why.

The love of my sister Lindsay AMAZES me. She is one of the greatest gifts in my life. Do you know why? She gives me the most precious of things: unconditional love, and the complete freedom to be myself.

If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder if you’re really unconditionally loved. Yes, people love you: family, spouses, etc.  But let’s be honest. Do you ever feel like they only love you because it’s in their job description? Or perhaps you think they might love you NOW, but if they EVER discovered X, Y, and Z, they would turn and run as fast as they could. Or maybe you feel like if you stop living up to EXACTLY who and what they want you to be, then they will see how unworthy you are of love.

But that’s the thing about unconditional love. THERE ARE NO CLAUSES. There is no job description that they have to live up to. They might discover X, Y, and Z, or maybe they already know it—and it DOESN’T MATTER. And maybe you stop living up to who and what they think you should be, just to discover 1) They never thought that in the first place, and 2) They are just so glad that you’re being YOU that it doesn’t matter HOW you do it.

That’s the second part: freedom to be yourself. This is what I have learned from my sister Lindsay. ImageI can be the exact mess of a person I am, and she still somehow loves me. Not just loves me, but thinks I’m AWESOME. (No, I’m serious, she really does. No bribes or anything.) She thinks my silly words are brilliant and my lame jokes are hilarious. Some days I am depressed and moody and stressed. That’s ok with her. It’s just a good excuse to go get ice cream so we can eat it and talk, cry, or whatever. I can express my worst feelings and most terrible thoughts, and Lindsay listens and wants to hear more. That’s a GIFT, people. It’s hard to find.

But it CAN be found. So here’s your challenge: start looking for your Lindsays. You may not think you can find that love and freedom, but I believe you can. It may be someone you already know, but you simply haven’t realized it yet. Stop trying to fit into their “perception” of you and let them love your imperfections.

So risk some things. Be a little silly. Say something dumb. Let people see the real you…because very possibly, they will LOVE it. That’s what I’m learning from my sister.

I am praying you find your Lindsay, too. And then, be a Lindsay for someone else.