childhood

I was meant to be a psychologist: But Why?

 

I was meant to be a psychologist: But Why?

 

I was a smarty pants, book smarts girl from the South Bronx. I read ten books a week sometimes for books were my escape into other worlds and realms of possibilities. I knew there was more out there than what was surrounding me in the immediate square block.  At a young age I wrote my first novel on a type writer my aunt bought me for Christmas one year. That typewriter was one of the very few Christmas gifts I ever got.  Because of my love of writing and its rare status as a Christmas gift, I treasured that typewriter immensely.

 

I would run home and type away on it one finger at a time. I started teaching myself to draw so that I could draw a cover to my book. My mom beamed with joy as she had always wanted to be a novelist, besides being a Puerto Rican Cowgirl.  She had notebooks everywhere where she jotted down poems and paragraphs of short stories. She just kept them in every room. She never knew when a thought would hit her that she would just have to let bleed out immediately onto paper.

 

Every day in the South Bronx was an adventure that could fill volumes of books. A shooting, a stabbing, a fight over honor:  those were everyday occurrences.   These events could have served as a screenplay for the many television crime series.   I often sat back and watched it all play out from my first-floor gated window.

 

With all this in my background I was bound to be a novelist. Or was I? No, not according to my mother. From day one, as far as she could remember, I was going to be a psychologist. It was destiny.  Then I watched Silence of the Lambs and I knew I would be a psychologist.

 

While I sat back and watched the events about it, I dissected them. I analyzed people’s motives and people’s gaits. I learned to predict people’s behaviors all around me.  I understood the human mind from a different way than did others I interacted with.   I was fascinated with the why and when of actions, thoughts and beliefs.   In a way, it made sense. It was evolutionarily speaking a survival instinct.   I had to predict and understand the motives of and actions of others in order to safely walk home every day.

 

Then there was also the fact that from an early age people confided in me many of their deep and dark thoughts.   I was often the go-to person when it came to catharsis.  I have never quite understood why people felt that they could just unload their mental baggage onto me but it happened.  And it happened with great frequency. Still happens even though I do not serve in a clinical role.

 

It could be the fact that my face can go from very expressive horror and sympathy to complete blank expression hiding my judgments.   It could be that my first instinct to most problems is to laugh about them and then set about solving them instead of ruminating.  Or it could just be that I was destined for it.

 

While my mother was pregnant she went to a fortune teller who advised her she would have a girl with throat problems (I guess my asthma counts) who would have a great mind that would serve her well. My mother took that to heart and from the very beginning inculcated a mind-expanding environment for me as best as she could deeply mired in poverty.  She looked around her and noted there were great mental health issues.  For example, one day a neighbor knocked on our door and asked if we would babysit her daughter for a few hours while she went to the doctor for a last minute visit.  We took the little girl n and after 8 hours came to realize that the bother was never coming back. My mother and I cried at the present and future possibilities for this little girl.   Upon calling social welfare, my mother turned to me and said  “I just don’t understand how a mother could leave her kid. What could be so horrible to make her do this?”  I was about 7 years old. I had not a clue but said “well, she had a tough life and it weighed her down. Maybe it’s best she moved on.”  My mother looked at me and told me that her biggest fear was losing me and then said “maybe one day you will go onto understand why people do the things that they do.”

 

Well, I am trying

 

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20 replies »

  1. I think that non-judgmental appearance has to be one of the keys. It’s a treasure to have people able to hear something personal without appearing to think the speaker is horrible.

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  2. I love the imagery of the typewriter and watching the screenplay of life unfold from your window. Very glad your mother nurtured your mind and provided a stimulating environment!

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  3. A sympathetic ear with a nonjudgemental attitude, combined with basic common sense is harder to find than one might think. I’m sure people who know you just can’t help but pour out their thoughts and feelings. 🙂
    -ValS

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  4. I find myself perceiving many shared experiences with your post; I am currently finishing my last year of my undergrad and will be continuing on to graduate school next winter. Others around me have a difficult time grasping why I would choose psychology (financially) when there are easier, shorter college routes I could take. Yet, they all know exactly why I am on this path. Nice to know there are others out there with genuine interest and that little extra ability to sense the world.

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