Monday begins my twenty-seventh year as a speech-language pathologist. I’m the rare freak in today’s world of work: I’ve had but one employer. Early in my career, when I was even more broke than I am now, I provided speech therapy per diem under the employ of a handful of rehab agencies. But for my “actual” job, my full-time gig, my paychecks have been funded by the same entity. Twenty-seven years and not even a stinkin’ pin for my 25th anniversary. A “thank you” would’ve been nice, sure, but whatevs, that’s probably not in the budget either.
Labor statistics startle me, and my observations in my own professional department leave me with the only conclusion to be made: Nobody sticks around anymore. I wasn’t kidding when I labeled myself a freak. I am.
Until recently, I’d given no consideration to engaging in any other kind of work. The litany of skills I don’t possess is long, and my experience is narrow. Plus, I’ve not felt a calling to shift careers. I’m an excellent mentor for speech-language pathologists (see here if you don’t believe me), but my profession doesn’t support hired guns as mentors. That gig is rather in-house supported in the various environs SLPs find themselves providing services. I enjoy speech-language therapy, I do. But what if I was actually meant to do and be something different?
I vowed to take a career inventory in 2017, and what better time to do that than the eve of back-to-school? Today is my last alarm clock-free morning and my shoulder injury allows little sleep anyway, so let’s carpe this diem and discover what I might be better suited to do. I created a fake persona, because really, what better way to enter the second half of my career years than under false pretense? Nah, I did that just to avoid the spammy emails. I was also (so far) unwilling to make any financial investment without proper vetting of these sites, so I’m not all-in trusting what I “learned” about myself in 100 online questions. What I’ve received thus far isn’t a comprehensive list of jobs, but a collection of broad areas of strength, weakness, and attitudes about work.
Based on my response profile, judged to be valid and reliable, I’m supposed to be a writer. Apparently I’m also well-suited to be a funeral director or involved in food service or the outdoors. I am realistic, attentive, and investigative (not social?). Any one of my co-workers can attest to my being realistic and attentive, and I suspect they want to beat me over the head for my workplace pragmatism and my vision of how we fit in our workplace “real world” (and when I say “fit in” I mean how at “our level” we must defer to every layer of higher administration, which kind of means “Shut up, Wendy.” And why am I so overusing the quotation marks and colons today???). Investigative? Not so sure about that one, although as an SLP, one often finds herself unraveling the mysteries of a child’s communicative weaknesses and creating a pathway toward competence. I choose to believe I’m investigative after all.
I’m not a writer. Nor am I involved in funerary responsibilities, food preparation, or the Parks Service. Not yet anyway.
Monday I’ll drag my ass out of bed, carry my left arm and shoulder to the shower, and fire it up for my forty-sixth first day of school. I am good at what I do, and the students and speech paths I support and mentor deserve nothing less. I can’t help but wonder though, what if I could be good at or even better doing something different? Those deep thoughts will likely percolate, then emerge here as I inch closer to my birthday–the round one, that really big one looming. . . This is not a midlife crisis, you guys, unless I live to be one hundred.
But today? Today we celebrate the end of my summer! Once they finally drag their tween and teen butts out of bed, my middle schoolers and I are going to enjoy our day under the unseasonably cool, azure, perfect last day of summer vacation sky.