Gerard Grigsby, PhD, LCPC, LPC
Should You Persevere or Pivot?
Earlier this year, I attempted to start the process of buying a house, but that didn't work out (applying for a loan is much harder when you're self-employed). Determined to achieve my dream of home ownership, I decided to downsize my practice and start looking for a full-time job so I could make more money - and get out of the house!
I made that decision in February. It's now December, and I still don't have the W-2 or six figure salary I've so desperately wanted.
I've interviewed and gotten offers, but things keep getting stalled. I passed up a job that probably would have been the best fit for me -- counselor at an HBCU -- in favor of one that was offering more money -- EAP clinician for a federal government agency. I haven't heard back about the federal government job because the security clearance process got stalled. It probably didn't help that I gave my [unnecessarily hostile] polygraph examiner a piece of my mind...
Me: This was such an unpleasant experience, I won't be back. Her: You won't have to go through the whole process again. Me: Will it be anything like this? Her: You mean a polygraph test? *Said smartly* Me: Your response told me everything I need to know. Be blessed, ma'am.
Word of advice - if you have to take a polygraph test, don't try to calm yourself down. It would be best for you to "embrace your nerves" and avoid breathing too deeply so you don't give the impression that you're trying to manipulate the results of the test. Also, if you drink more than two alcoholic beverages in one sitting, you're SOL!
After I gave up on that position, I started my job search again. As luck would have it, a good friend encouraged me to apply for a job at another university, and I got an immediate response from the director of the counseling center there. She let me know they were very impressed with my CV and wanted to schedule a phone call. Excitedly, I made room on my calendar for the next Monday and started preparing, assuming this would be more of an informal interview.
Come Monday, I get the call from the director, and she tells me everything I want to hear -- hybrid schedule and room to negotiate a near-six-figure salary! Then she tells me I might not be able to move forward because I'm a licensed professional counselor, not a social worker or psychologist! This turf war in the mental health field is garbage. I pray we let it go. Also, that call was all of 15 minutes. We could have discussed those pieces through e-mail...
Several weeks pass with no update about the university counseling center position, so I start the job search for the fourth time! I apply for another federal government job and, again, get an immediate response. Someone from the Senate's hiring staff calls to let me know my application made it through initial screening and will likely be forwarded so I can begin the first round of interviews. The salary is snatched, the work structure is hybrid, and I'd be doing more of what I already do. Then she bursts my bubble and tells me I'd have to terminate my practice if I accept an offer from them...
Her: Would that be a problem for you? Me: Yes...
Calls for interviews were supposed to happen last week. It's now this week and my phone has been radio silent.
So, after almost a year of running into obstacles with the job search, I had to have a "Come to Jesus" moment with myself. One day, while I was journaling, it occurred to me that I've been working too hard, which has always been a sign that I'm chasing something that doesn't belong to me. This whole process has required waaaaay too much effort for it to be aligned with my purpose. When I feel like I'm wrestling with clients or loved ones, I know we aren't in sync or on the right path together. Once I took a step back and noticed the pattern that kept playing out with these jobs, it became clear to me that I've been wrestling with the Universe. Trying to force something to happen. And that hasn't been going so well for me. At. All.
About two weeks ago, I started entertaining the idea of abandoning my job search and opening my practice back up. Just for sh*ts and giggles, I searched for office space and came across a building just 10 minutes away from me in Hyattsville. I went to take a look at the space and could feel an energy that let me know I was moving closer to my North. The space isn't perfect, but it's in a building that has everything I've been looking for.
It's very close to my house and walking distance from one of my favorite coffee shops. I can build it out for 2-3 months without paying any rent. Currently, there's ample space for me and my clients, but with some modifications, the space could easily accommodate two clinicians, which would work out well if I ever decided to rent it out. And most important, it provides access to community (there's a co-working space on the floor above me). The property manager is also a dope ass Black woman, so I knew immediately I'd be in good hands! I left and, a week later, decided to submit a rental application. Yesterday, I received confirmation that I've been approved.
Last night, I announced to all of my clients that I was giving up the job search and shifting my focus back to full-time private practice. Already, I can feel space opening up inside of me. I know this is the right decision because it is aligned with the vision that came to me right before I started seriously looking for jobs and trying to make more money earlier this year. I also know it's the right decision because I haven't had to wrestle to make anything happen. Throughout my life, everything that was meant for me has come to me with ease. And that's exactly what just happened with this search for office space.
I could probably write a book about all the special moments I've experienced in synchronicity with the Universe. Just as noteworthy would be all the storms I've endured -- and the lessons I've had to learn -- whenever I wasn't in synchronicity with the Universe (turn to: my dating life ). One of these days, I might write that book. For now, I'll just leave you with the praise report above and invitation below.
Take a moment to check in and reflect:
Have you been wrestling with anything or anyone? Or have relationships and opportunities been coming to you with ease?
Which seasons of your life have felt the most effortful for you?
What was the outcome when you tried your hardest to make something happen?
When you think about all the major blessings in your life, how did they come to you? Did you have to claw your way to them? Or did they arrive as unexpected gifts when you were walking in your calling?
If you are chasing something, have you stopped to ask yourself why? Do you know what you're actually chasing?
And lastly, when you think about whatever it is you might be chasing, does it fit into the grandest vision of your life? If so, how and where?
As for me and my house, I want to heal, help others heal, and build community. And I don't want to wrestle to have to make that happen. I'm more than willing to do real work, but not at a cost to my integrity or peace of mind. If I'm going to work, I want to do it in a way that feels 100% right for me -- a way that welcomes and truly values all parts of me, including my Black, gay, working class, LPC, IFS-loving, creative, holistic parts, and my silly, ratchet, ADHD, cursing, turn-up parts! I want to be able to bring my whole self to work, and I want to have real impact. In order to do that, I gotta ask my money-chasing capitalistic parts to step aside so Gerard can steer this ship!