I love reflecting. More than that, I love hearing others reflect. It’s kind of like “story time”. I have worked with kids for the vast majority of my life, so imagine the amount of stories I listen to. Listening to my own story, told by myself, is a bit of a challenge. We are our own worst critic. Nobody knows me better than I do. So, reflecting on myself has taken me a little while to put to words. There’s just so much! There are the small things that turned big (literally), like getting another dog; then there are big things like adding another job and counseling people. Change has come in waves for me this year. A lot of the change was positive, but it wasn’t all perfect.
When I started my graduate program in the Fall of 2017, my professor told me, “This program will change you. If it doesn’t, well something was wrong.” She was right. At first, I thought, “Well, duh. I hope it does. I came here to learn and grow, didn’t I?” Now I see that it changed so much more for me. I don’t think all of my change comes from school, but school has impacted all areas where I have experienced change.
Within my education, I have had the opportunity to physically counsel at my practicum site. This would be where my primary growth occurred in my education. I learned the importance of all of these counseling skills and what it means to put them to work. I have had to write reflective papers about my “style” and learn who am I as a counselor.
A year ago, I had no idea what “holding silence” was like. I knew I liked when I was in a room alone, but I did not know what it meant to sit quietly in a room with someone. I have grown to like silence. There’s something radical about sitting in a room and being quiet to allow the opportunity for someone to experience whatever it might be that’s going on for them. This has caused me to realize the patterns within those around me who might be quick to talk (like me) and how to slow down so that others might speak more. I have learned that my body language says a lot whether I mean for it to or not.
I am not saying I am 100% there. It takes years and years to learn who you are. Even then, there’s always room to learn and grow. This is one reason I continue my education. You can never learn too much! I have grown to become a practicing counselor, which is one of the most rewarding things I can imagine. Growth is a fascinating concept to me. I have always wanted to grow, but typically growing means putting yourself in a spot you have never been before (like sharing your life on a public website blog). While counseling individuals, I start somewhere in the beginning by telling my clients what counseling is to me. This can be different for everyone. For me, in short, it’s about creating a safe space for someone to explore who they are and who they want to be. Well, in order to become who you want to be, you have to be willing to let some parts of you go or morph into something new. Growth is hard and uncomfortable. I have worked hard in order to get to where I am. There have been plenty of times where it was uncomfortable and I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I came out a better version of myself along the way. I will continue to work hard and find a balance between all areas of life.
In my process of going to school, I gained my job here at The Counseling Hub. I had the opportunity to have Tara Vossenkemper as a professor, and then become the client liaison. When this position came about, I was at a point in my life where I felt I was behind my classmates. I had no experience in the counseling field. I am so grateful for this job. I love when someone calls or emails in and takes that step towards becoming a better version of themselves. More than that, I love being the first person they contact. I have worked in retail previously, so I know the typical ways of communicating with others. Reflecting back on that job reminds me why I probably enjoy this position and my other position of working with children with autism. Both involve people and helping people. More than that, this job has shown me what a private practice will look like. I can only hope if I ever open one that it is like The Counseling Hub. I was nervous coming into this and even in my short time, I have watched it change so much. I have had the opportunity to learn about other counselors in the area and meet some here in our office. Change isn’t always easy for me, so finding a balance with this was really important for me.
If you ever have heard the saying, “Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel because energies are contagious” then you would know how I feel about my coworkers. I have surrounded myself with people who give me the type of energy I want. I want to be driven. I want to work hard. I want to have fun. I want to grow. I want to learn. I want to be kind and compassionate. All of my coworkers have rubbed off on me, and all in good ways. Now, I will be going into 2019 with an internship at a fantastic place with some people I never knew I would end up with.
My life with my friends and family has been an area of growth this year. Wow, this makes the year feel long. This is where I start to realize that so much can happen in a year. Some things were never expected, while some were slowly creeping into my life.
When we think of loss and grief, typically this is associated with those who have passed away; at least for me this is how it has always been. I have learned about grief surrounding a slow death due to an illness this year. I know at some point, a family member of mine will pass away, and I am unsure how this will impact my family. Thinking of this has added a shadow in my life this year. It has caused stress. There’s little that can be done, and there’s a lot one wishes they could change. As I complete the social media for our Facebook, we focused on gratitude. I realized how deeply grateful I am for all that I have in my life. My health isn’t perfect, but I am alive. Sometimes I can get so caught up in how life is for others, that I miss how good it is for myself. Typically, I would say I am a very grateful person but there were a few streaks this year where this was not the case. This upcoming loss reminds me of all the time I have been given and never knowing what lies ahead. Thus, as I reflect, I realize what is truly important and what I would like out of my life.
Friendships & Families
This is always a tough reflection. As I stated above, I tend to see loss as occurring when someone dies. However, I have lost close friendships this year. I have lost friends who I thought were great to me, but I realized they were not. In replace of that, and not on purpose, I have gained a few as well. Some friendships have rekindled, and some have grown from a friend to a very special friend. I have continued to learn what it means to be a “good” friend and what I look for in friendships. I have had growth in my relationship as well. I have also had changes occur within my family. All of these are changes I wasn’t planning for. This is another trend in my life. I have learned that not everything can be planned. Not everything goes as planned. I have had to be flexible when I did not want to. The significance of this for me is the impact it has on my personal well-being and those around me. I know that family and friends are of the utmost importance to me. Finding the balance needed for this has been one for the books.
I have started to learn the balance of self-care. I might not get to read the entire book, but I will find time for 20 pages. I know the importance of taking time off and seeing those you love. It’s difficult at times to balance all these areas of life. It makes me think of a balancing act. I have work in my left hand, school in my right, my relationship on my head, friendships on my left foot, family on my right foot, myself on my nose (if I could make that possible), chores on one shoulder, and everything else thrown in this tiny little basket on my other shoulder. How do we all manage to keep walking?! Well, sometimes one basket grows to take more from the others. Finding a balance has been one of my goals for this year. I know my professional growth is not near where I want it to be. I couldn’t even tell you where I want it to be, so I know I am not there. As a person, I know becoming a better version of yourself is always possible. My baskets will forever be changing and the balancing will teeter, but I know what I want to focus on moving into the next year! Although this is about reflecting, I am really excited (and somewhat frightened/nervous) to see what 2019 has in store!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Machaela Rausch- Client Liaison
Machaela is currently in her second year of the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling program at Central Methodist University (CMU). She is the client liaison for The Counseling Hub where she assists with getting individuals set up with a counselor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and a minor in Multicultural Studies from the University of Missouri.
Machaela is currently receiving experience in the Counseling Center at MACC’s Columbia Campus, providing counseling services for students around the topics of identitiy crisis, school-related stressors, depression issues, coping with anxiety, and body image issues. Machaela has attended conferences regarding LGBTQ+ community and currently works for a non profit organization where she provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Implementing to individuals with developmental delays. Machaela has worked here for three years. Machaela is an active member of the American Counseling Association (ACA).
Machaela enjoys working with diverse populations and aims to always be open to new learning experiences. Machaela seeks to be a comforting and kind individual for the first contact with The Counseling Hub. Machaela understands the process of getting into therapy can be difficult and aims to provide people with a smooth process.