Peer Counseling Perspectives
Firearms and My Future
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive . . ."
So many of us spend our lives in dead-end, low paying jobs just to pay the bills. Sometimes it seems easier to maintain the status quo rather than take a leap of faith and try something new. Especially if that something new involves our dreams, our deepest desires. I speak from experience. After a string of boring, low paying, unfulfilling jobs I had taken a position as a store manager for Blockbuster Video. It seemed like easy enough work for average pay. Best of all, the job landed in my lap so I didn't have to go hunting for a job and put myself out there to look for what I really wanted to do and risk rejection.
I was working on a Wednesday in January of 1997. My day-shift employee had not shown up for work that day. A man came in and took advantage of my being alone in the store that day and robbed me at gunpoint. I was laying face down on the floor in the back of the store, with my hands behind my back and a gun pointed at the back of my head. My life flashed before my eyes. I hadn't done anything with my career or my life that I felt passionate about. I didn't have anyone in my life that I really cared about. Except for when I went and volunteered at some of the local AIDS service organizations, my life consisted of marking time, waiting on the next day to pass by, then the next and so on.
"Most people don't know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life . . ."
We've all heard the expression "It took someone pointing a gun at my head to make something happen." Well, in my case it did. I took two weeks off for post-traumatic stress disorder at the recommendation of the therapist I saw after the incident. I worked with her and -- through counseling and talking through the issues in my life -- I decided that it was time to move on and finally make a change. I looked at my life and what I felt passionate about. I really enjoyed what I did as a volunteer, educating and advocating for people in need that had difficulty being heard or noticed. It was decided! I would get my masters in social work. I began applying to graduate school and was accepted into the Social Work Masters Program at the University of Georgia. I took a bold step, quit my job at Blockbuster and got financial aid to pay for school. Flash forward four years and here I am, working in a job I love, helping empower, and educate persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
"I used to wait for a sign, she said, before I did anything. Then one night I had a dream and an angel in black tights came to me and said, 'You can start any time now,' and then I asked 'Is this a sign?' and the angel started laughing and I woke up. Now, I think the whole world is filled with signs, but if there's no laughter, I know they're not for me . . . "
I guess the purpose of this tale is to pass on to you that you don't have to wait for someone to put a gun to your head to make a change in your life. Is it fear that is stopping you? Confront the fears that are keeping you from doing what you most want to do with your life. Not enough time? We can always find time for the things we really want to do. Not enough money? Everyone has heard the saying "Do what you love and the money will follow." However, It doesn't necessarily mean that if you do what you love, tons of money will fall into your lap (though, it could happen!). What it truly means is that if you put yourself and your dreams out there and begin to pursue them, the finances, resources, and support you need will become available. When you go about pursuing your dream, it is important to realize that dreams do not become reality without a cost being associated. For example, I pursued my dream of getting a masters in social work. But in order to pursue that dream, I had to change the way I lived my life, curb my spending habits and learn to live on a student's budget. I also had to curb my social activities and skip the movies and television shows to read, research, study and write papers.
"The secret is not in your hand, or your eye, or your voice, my aunt once told me. The secret is in your heart. Of course, she said, knowing that doesn't make it any easier . . ."
"We spend most of our lives working. We might as well find an occupation that fires us up and engages our heart. When you find work you love and have the courage to pursue it, success is certain to follow. We are all here for a special purpose and we all have unique gifts and talents. Discover your calling and have the self-discipline to follow it."
"In my dream the angel shrugged and said, 'If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination' and then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand . . ."
Remember that the world is there for the taking. Try not to be afraid to take the first step . . . then once you have taken that step enjoy the journey!
This article was provided by AIDS Survival Project. It is a part of the publication Survival News.