Maury Led Me to My Dream Job
I think it all started with a Maury episode, honestly.
Do you remember those drill sergeants who would come out, all hyped up, and just give some of the guests REAL TALK? There was an episode in particular, I believe it was with women who were struggling with an abusive partner. This drill sergeant came out and basically pumped these women up, was full of energy, and just delivered 100% realness as far as what they were doing to themselves, how incredible they were, and how wrong their partner was for treating them poorly.
He basically infused total badassery into these women and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I still remember him walking down the stairs and the chills I got, and this had to have been when I was 6 or 7.
I thought, I want to make people feel that way.
Fast forward a few years to less trash TV and more adult movie taste. As a teenager, I loved The Sixth Sense. I loved how the therapist worked with and built rapport with the little boy, and I thought it would be awesome to do this for a living - except, you know, actually be alive.
Going into college, I decided to major in Psychology because it seemed like the most straightforward path to being able to merge these desires together. But I still didn’t see myself as a therapist in this office, sitting down, just offering guided reflections and supportive therapy. I’m a natural problem solver and my energy just isn’t about that at all. I knew that wouldn’t be my style.
When I learned about Exposure and Response Prevention in one of my courses, I thought it was literally the coolest thing ever (in conclusion: it is). It seemed like the perfect fit for what I wanted to do - be a therapist, but also kind of like that guy on Maury! I wanted to help people, but not just by listening to them and showing unconditional warmth and support. I wanted to get them through difficult situations, I wanted to help them believe in themselves, I wanted to transfer my confidence and energy to them so that they could transcend all of their self doubt and overcome all of the crap.
And so I fell in love. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
From that moment on, I knew I would want to do exposure therapy. From there, I learned it was the most effective treatment for OCD and anxiety, and it was a total given. Everything suddenly made sense. I told people, “I want to work in a house one day that has timed showers!” Ummm… nerd, much? I think I saw this on a TV show. Apparently I was very heavily influenced by TV growing up.
Looking back on my childhood and throughout adolescence and college - okay, even now - I consider myself to be an anxious person. When I was younger, I would get so anxious about school that my stomach ached. I was terrified of speaking up in class. I hated going around on the first day of class and introducing myself, saying a random fact about myself, and blah blah blah.
But guess what.
I did all of the things. ALL OF THE THINGS.
I was always first to offer to speak up in class. I always offered to read outloud, especially when I was scared to do it. I had nearly perfect attendance in school even though I went in every day thinking I was going to vomit all over everybody and everything.
Now that my dream almost came true - I literally do work in a house that has just about everything BUT timed showers - I can say I’ve made a life out of doing hard things. I’m not perfect, I don’t always follow my own advice. I’m human and there are things that scare me and things that get the best of me. But I love this treatment, I stand by it 100%, and there is a part of me that I think was absolutely, without a doubt, born to do it - and not just therapy, but exposure therapy.
And every time I see a person improving because of it, I fall in love with it just a little bit more.
If you’re wondering about Exposure and Response Prevention, know that it’s completely worth it to challenge yourself and show yourself how truly incredible you are. I get that it can be scary, that sometimes your stomach might hurt so bad that you want to throw up, and that there’s a lot of uncertainty involved. But it really is the coolest thing, and it will teach you so much more than just how to overcome your fears. It will teach you how to overcome ANYTHING DIFFICULT because you’ll build yourself up to be 10 feet tall and bulletproof.
And helping you do that is everything I’ve ever wanted. All the way back to my good and glorious Maury days.
Keep doing all the hard things, people.
Xo - Jenna