I went to a smart high school.
Like, really smart. Our average graduating GPA was above a 4.0. We incorporated the number pi (3.14159) into our high school fight song. The number of SAT scores at “perfect” score was always in double digits.
Being in such an elite group of people makes you very driven and very focused. I believe out of 395 graduating seniors, all 395 went to college. We have a crazy percentage of doctors and lawyers (close to 50%), computer science programmers (40%), and the remaining percentage of us vary between liberal arts (a jewelry maker/professor, a playwright, some actors), political and business (entrepreneurial startups) and medical professions (nurse, PT, etc).
The reason I tell you this is that now – almost 20 years after high school – I’m just coming to realize that my job does not define me.
Only knowing that type of academic environment really does a number on you – the only thing that defines you is your future successes, and so we’re driven to perpetually push forward even in the wake of things that make you think, why am I doing this??
I’ve always pushed forward when it comes to work and my career – the first 2.5 years of high school I wanted to be an architect. It was only in those last remaining years that a close friend mentioned she was going to school for PT and I thought, hey – that sounds interesting. By senior year I knew that was what I wanted to do…and so I did it.
I got into college, went through the motions of undergraduate (because, hey, who cares, I’m getting my master’s degree), finished my master’s degree, and started working. My initial trajectory of PT was to work with spinal cord patients – but I couldn’t master all the neurological background information, so my backup was to work with orthopedic outpatient, which is where I’ve been ever since.
I’m pretty good at my job. I’m not the best and I’m not the worst. I do what I can for my patients, I try to learn from my other fellow therapists, and I have a decent capacity for manual therapy.
I continued to push forward, eventually working my way up to management. I liked it, I thought it made me important, made me worth something.
But then, through blogging while I was pregnant with my daughter, I lost it all.
I was fired.
First time in my entire life I had completely screwed up. So, when maternity leave was over, I started again.
And I wasn’t working 50 hours a week.
I kept working part-time. My fellow therapists liked me, I liked them, I started to build a name for myself in the community I worked in and had “regulars” who came in to see me after an injury. But then I changed jobs to be a little closer to home.
I love where I work now BUT I’m very isolated – I only work with one other therapist, who is amazing, but doesn’t really treat on a regular basis. Two of the three owners are amazingly talented PTs – one is nationally recognized for his work with runners and triathletes. It’s some really big shoes to be alongside them and I’m always amazed that they hired me.
I try to keep up, and on a good day, I might even come close…but I’m realizing that it’s okay to not be as talented as them. It’s okay to not want to be management, to not want to push forward. It’s (even) okay to not want more…to be peaceful with where I’m at.
I may have come from one of the best high schools in the nation, and I may have graduated from one of the top universities in the nation for my degree, but it’s taken me a long time to realize that intelligence isn’t only what’s on paper, it’s understanding who you are.
And I’m starting to realize that who I am, isn’t who I thought I was.
And that’s okay.