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Why I'm Going Back to School

Why I'm Going Back to School


Why now? This is a question I have asked myself a lot over the last few years. Why leave a career path and start something new on my own? Why go back to school, putting the business I poured my entire being into and built from the ground up on the back burner to pursue an advanced degree in counseling? Why is this so important to me? 

Mental health was not something that was ever discussed in my house growing up, nor was it something I can even recall hearing discussed until my early twenties and it was not until my late twenties that I gained an understanding of what mental health is. I was raised with the understanding that everything was always “fine,” sometimes things were “good” or even occasionally “great,” but never “bad.” You just pushed your way through anything and everything by pushing down any feelings, questions, or emotions. I wish I had been given the resources to understand my mental health and the impact it had on my life at a younger age, but it is better late than never. 

Like many others, I entered my undergraduate education without knowing much about what I wanted to do with my life, simply taking the next step in a life that had been dictated to me, checking off another box on a list of expectations. During this time and into my twenties I worked many jobs in a variety of different settings seeking purpose, something I loved, an industry or vocation I felt passionate about, all the while keeping my fiber art crafting hobby on the side hidden away like the trivial activity I’d been taught it was. After years languishing on the path that had been laid out for me in the expectations of others I decided to follow my entrepreneurial intuition and take that crafting hobby and turn it into my full-time pursuit. I built my business with the idea that I could pursue something that had greater meaning and empowered me to give back,  create an opportunity to help others, build community, and enrich the lives of those around me. In this new effort I realized throughout my life that it was when I was living and working in service of others that I found my own sense of purpose and achieved a level of mental health, happiness, and equanimity that had otherwise eluded me. 

This is how Like Woah Handmade, the small business I started as a way to give back to others became the biggest gift I’ve given myself. Through operating this business I have learned that I have used ‘crafting’ my entire life as a way to alleviate my own anxiety and that in teaching fiber art workshops to others I have been able to provide people the chance to explore with creative freedom, working through things happening in their own lives. Through direct interaction, mentorship, and donating time and money to organizations I am passionate about year after year I have learned the true impact I can have. The realization that I can have a positive impact on others while enhancing my own inner wellness and mental health has given me steadfast conviction that I must pursue the work of helping others, albeit with a different focus. It has taken me thirty-one years to reach this level of understanding of myself and it is this journey that is motivating my decision to pursue becoming a therapist, 

I want to help others through their mental health challenges in life, but I am especially called to serve those that have experienced our prison system and those that are currently incarcerated. The injustices that exist in our criminal justice and prison system are beyond troubling and the lack of support individuals receive while incarcerated and after release are something I would love to spend my time and effort focused on addressing. The lack of mental health support not only creates an environment that can be qualified as cruel and unusual, it also creates long-lasting trauma that reverberates through individuals, families, and entire communities. These traumatic experiences are fueling an ever growing inequality that exacerbates the inequalities in our society and continues to contribute to systemic racism. I want to be a part of addressing these ills and be part of a solution that can create a more equitable, kind, and compassionate world.

By focusing my work on addressing an underserved and over-traumatized population I hope to bring more beauty and light into the lives of those who have endured too much darkness.

Comments (1)

  • Merce Mitchell on March 15, 2022

    Hey Sam,
    This was so well explained that I feel I know what you are going for and want to do in your life. Thanks for sharing the continuing thread of your evolution. Your honesty has always inspired me as a person and small business owner and creator. Wishing you the best on this journey and I will look forward to any future news!

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