I Left My Full Time Job

I Left My Job…Now What?

Yep, that’s right. I left my job to chase my dreams. “What are your dreams?” you ask. Actually, they aren’t dreams anymore. They are my GOALS. A wise friend once told me “dreams are just goals without deadlines” (thanks Victoria!).

The Job:
By trade I am a certified recreational therapy specialist (CTRS). What is that you ask? It is many things depending on the setting and population in which you work in. I work in mental health which means I focus on helping others find ways to cope with anxiety, depression, psychosis, and to alleviate negative emotions within. My setting is at a psychiatric hospital where I work with severe mental illness and decompensation. Think of it as an ICU (intensive care unit) but for mental health. Not all psych hospitals are this way. Some are residential and others are acute. My hospital is acute, or short term, with an average stay of 7-10 days for crisis stabilization. Most of the patients that we admit have experienced some sort of severe trauma. I personally think I had the most fun and creative job in the hospital. I lead activity based therapy with all different ages to promote leisure, having hobbies, and holistic treatment. In the recreational therapy groups it is the experience that matters. My favorite groups involved painting, food, and music—YES, I GOT PAID TO DO CRAFTS AND LISTEN TO MUSIC. The therapeutic element is the activity but also how the therapist can relate the activity back to daily life and how it can be useful when regulating emotions. I was very fond of processing my groups over goal-setting, coping skills, positive self-talk, and relaxation. These are subjects that I believe in because they have helped me through the years.

The Problem:
Time, time, time. William Penn said: “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”. Willie definitely had a point. I spent between 10-16 hours, depending on the day, away from my apartment. Sitting in traffic, working at the hospital, more traffic, grad school, and traffic on the way home at dang-near 11pm! I scheduled my photoshoots on the weekends and for about 6 weeks I had zero days off. I spent energy on too many things at once and I was spread see-through thin. There came a point in early April of this year where I needed to fly to Maryland for a family emergency and I honestly was thinking about how I could navigate taking the least bit of PTO from work and missing the minimal amount of my classes. REALLY? I couldn’t even go see my family in peace because of how many commitments I had. On top of all that, the hospital was emotionally draining due to working mainly with patients who were suicidal and/or homicidal. I developed workplace anxiety from the high levels of aggression witnessed which triggered old, repressed feelings. Oh, and did I mention both my legs were trippin?! Ugh, so much pain from being on my feet all day.
I was sad. I had no time or energy for anything else. My friends, family, hobbies…nothing. That is not how I wanted to live the rest of my life, or even the rest of the year. I decided in May that I was going to leave my full time job in the summer and not enroll back into grad school. So, here we are in November and I have no regrets, just less money lol. I left my job July 15 and I have time now to enjoy my family and friends, network, take photos, travel, start a blog, and sleep in! I vow to be as stress free as I can be.
But let’s be real, I still have to be PRN (as needed) at the hospital to generate income, even if it is a fraction of what I was making before I left. I was working full time and getting paid biweekly but a huge chunk of my paycheck went to bills…for my apartment I couldn’t even spend time at because I was where? Sitting in traffic somewhere, that’s where! SMH. Anyways, my sister just bought a beautiful home which I have been rooming in to save money. Is this my first choice…no, because now I have to actually wear pants lol. BUT moving in with her allows me to do what I need to do without being confined to a strict schedule, and I get to be surrounded by my supportive family in the process.

The Mission:
My goals are to make my way through the fashion industry as a model that does not fit the typical model look, me missing a leg and all. I want to break down barriers and see more people like me in ads, fashion shows, movies, and promotional events. The modeling industry is getting better about diversity and inclusion (shout out to Nordstrom, Target, and Nike for using models with disabilities!), but I am still not satisfied. This leads me to goal #2. Modeling has created an excellent platform for me to start public speaking because I am going against the grain…and it’s hard. Sometimes I have to take a step back and separate my emotions. How I am as a model DOES NOT reflect how I am as a person. I am so quick to assume that when people don’t want to work with me it is because they don’t like me and I’m just like: “wait, you don’t want to shoot with me?! BUT I’M NICE!” No, it is because I don’t fit their “look”. But its fine-I like the way I look and in the grander scheme of things that is the attitude I am trying to promote as a motivational speaker. My new life as a body-positive individual has led to countless opportunities and a mindset that no longer requires me to seek validation from others. I know I’m the ish.

How overly-confident of me. Yep, and unapologetically so because it took me more than half my life to obtain this confidence.

Always accepting positive vibrations,
Kiara

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