End of Year Reflection
Reflection can be a helpful tool when thinking about what you want to change in the coming year. It can also allow you to see how far you’ve come. Reflecting on my last year, it wasn’t a terrible year, but it also wasn’t full of glitter and rainbows. This year was definitely full of self-improvement through higher-education, trying to manage a new career, and being a parent. Truthfully, at times it was exhausting! I like to think of myself as a generally grateful and positive person, but I’m sure there were times that I was very crabby and ungrateful over the last year. Times that I want to block out and hope the universe doesn’t ever provide me with again. On a lighter note, thinking back over 2018 I do know that I have grown a lot as both a person and as a counselor. This year was one that has taught me a lot of new lessons as well as reminded me of old lessons that I had forgotten.
Growth as a Person
One lesson that I was reminded of this past year was the lesson of staying humble. I spent several hours volunteering at a homeless shelter over the summer. This experience, which I had done frequently when I was growing up, had always been so very humbling. It had been at least ten years since I’d done this type of work and it felt so good to give my time again. Working alongside the residents in the shelter, I was able to connect with people who although live a very different life than I, are people just as I am. People who want the same things I want in life; a safe space to sleep at night, food for their belly, and a loving place for their children to live. People that have had a rough go and are still trying their hardest to make their lives better. People from all walks of life who have experienced different traumas, oppression, and difficult times. Reflecting on this experience I realized that often I will find myself wishing I had things that aren’t necessary. We all do. But when you have a reality check of working with people who have nothing but a few changes of clothes, you learn that all the extra stuff in life isn’t necessary. It’s nice, but not necessary. Giving my time may have not been convenient, but it allowed me to not only help those in need but humbled me. It reminded me of what I have and how fortunate I am to have it.
Not as dramatic as helping those less fortunate than I, I really took time this last year for self-care. This was a new lesson that I had claimed I never had the time for. Trying to juggle so many different hats (being a mom, a spouse, a friend, a daughter, a student, a counselor, etc.) was super hard. So many times, my head fell between my hands and I had to take deep breaths to regain my sanity. Few less times that happened this year than last year because my attempt for self-care. Self-care for me doesn’t look like an extravagant day of self- indulging (although that would be nice). It looked more practical for a busy mom. It looked like locking the bathroom door when I took a shower so that no kids could come in. It looked like not doing any work or homework after 9 pm so that I could go to bed on time (I love my sleep!). It looked like changing up my diet to eat more fruits and veggies and less chips- which didn’t feel like self-care until I started feeling the difference in my mood from eating good food. It looked like spending time talking to my kids about their day even though I had a lot I needed to do. Self-care meant doing small things that made my head and heart feel good. It made a huge difference in my life over the last year. It allowed me to feel rejuvenated. It allowed me to feel like a better mom, spouse, friend, daughter, student, and counselor. It allowed me to take time to consider what I wanted in order to be everything that I needed to be for everyone else. Self-care was reframed from something that I can’t have because it’s selfish and I don’t have time, to something necessary.
Growth as a Counselor
This is probably where I’ve had the most growth this year. It hasn’t been easy. I like to tell the people I work with that growth is uncomfortable and it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for budding therapists either. Facing many insecurities and self-doubts have been the theme of my growth as a counselor. More specifically, learning that it’s okay to not be perfect all the time. Thinking back to the beginning of the year and reflecting on what I thought a counselor should be has shifted. I always wanted to say the “right” thing to help people. Was the approach I was using the most effective? Was what I said the right reflection of their feelings? Was my body language perfectly open? Although these are very good things for counselor to consider (and should), at some point a counselor needs to trust their self. It was uncomfortable to realize that there’s probably never the prefect thing to say or the prefect technique to use. Simply being there for someone when they need a non-judgmentful ear is sometimes all a person needs. Showing that I’m a human, capable of mistakes has left me feeling much more relaxed and present in sessions. I guess what it boils down to is confidence.
Areas to Further Improve
It’d be ridiculous to claim that I’ve have no more areas to continue for self-improvement. Being honest with myself means that I have areas that I need to set goals for, just as I do with the people who sit across the couch from me. Self-improvement is a continual thing, not a destination. Reflecting on how far I have come over the last year as professional and as a person gives me hope that I can continue self-improvement with the momentum I’ve had over the last year. No, I am not going to divulge what I plan on working on over the upcoming year, but I do have some things in mind. I hope to follow up with my success story and a few unexpected lessons learned next year- stay tuned!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Molly is currently in her final year of the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling at Central Methodist University (CMU) and is a student intern at The Counseling Hub and Boone County Mental Health Coalition, where she will assess and provide mental health interventions and resources for individuals and groups in Boone County schools. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in General Psychology with a minor in Child Development from Central Methodist University directly before enrolling in the counseling program. Prior to pursuing her counseling degree, Molly received an Associates of Science in Early Childhood Education from Moberly Area Community College.
Molly has experience in the Counseling Center at MACC's Columbia campus, providing counseling services for students around the topics of identity crises, school-related stressors, depression issues, and coping with anxiety. Molly has co-facilitated Safe Zone trainings which introduce its members to the LGBTQ+ community terminology and basic information. Molly has also completed on online course in LGBTQ+ Counseling Competencies (College and Career Readiness) through the American Counseling Association (ACA). Molly is an active member of both the ACA and the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD).
Molly enjoys working with diverse populations and seeks to always be open to new learning experiences. She works best with individuals who are trying to discover who they are and how they relate to their world, as well as others in their world. Molly believes that a person’s external factors can provide both barriers and resources towards growth and that one must discover these in order to thrive.