| Movin on Up |

Chaya: Part I

Chaya,19, knows exactly what she doesn’t want, but what in the world does she want?


don’t know what I want to do, but I know exactly what I don’t want to do!” That’s how I started my first session with Shaina. I was sort of expecting a surprised or frustrated reaction, but all I got was, “That’s a great start, Chaya! Tell me everything that you don’t want to do.”

Okay, that’s easy. Ready?

I don’t want to teach.

I don’t want to be an accountant.

I don’t want to be a therapist — any kind of therapist.

I don’t want to go to college.

I don’t want to do anything that involves kids (besides my own).

I don’t want to be stuck to an exact schedule.

I don’t want to do anything in the medical field. Not a doctor, nurse, or dental hygienist. None of those.

I don’t want to work for myself.

I don’t want to have to be creative.

Phew, I think I’m done. Is there any hope for me? Is there work that I can find that I’d enjoy? I really only want to go through this process once, I explained.

“This list of what you don’t want to do is a great start,” said Shaina. “And I don’t think you’re going to be the first person I’ve met who couldn’t think of something they’d be great at.”

Shaina wanted to hear a bit more about why I don’t want to do any of these things, so we could gather some useful clues.  Next, we’ll make a list of things I’m good at, and things I enjoy doing. She explained that this doesn’t need to have anything to do with work at all, just with who I am as a person.

Okay, sounded easy.

As I went through my explanations (because that’s what everyone else is doing, because I want to be home for my family when needed, because I can’t stand the pressure of trying to think of new ideas…), I felt good knowing that the plan would be to avoid all those things.

But what am I going to do?  We started talking about my hobbies, things I enjoy, and some experiences I had where I felt super happy and useful. I shared my hotel day-camp stories, the family vacations I planned, and the cross-country trip for my cousins that I was planning. We discussed the parts of school that I liked, the fact that I had to have music on to get things done, and that I was the go-to problem-solver in my family. I’m still not sure what this has to do with getting a job, but I’m willing to go through this once. If it’s also fun, I’m not complaining. As long as we can get to the point and figure out how I’m going to spend my time while the rest of the people I know are sitting in accounting class.

When I glanced back down at the list, we did have a pretty impressive amount of strengths down on paper, based on the stories I’d shared.

My homework was to review this list and add anything I could think of. During our next meeting we’d review jobs that use these abilities. As long as there was hope for me, I was glad to write nice things about myself!

Toward the end of our meeting, I brought up the most pressing question. All these lists and stuff are nice, but I’d like a clear answer on a job I was offered earlier this week. A friend of mine is moving out of town and giving up her position at the local wig salon. I already met the owner, and she’s ready to hire me. Should I take the job or not?

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 797)

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