Identities

IMG_1041Last week I went to NYC for the annual American Group Psychotherapy Association conference. As I’ve shared on this blog before, this conference is a highlight of my year; every single year.

This year my experience at the conference exceeded my own expectations and hopes and I had some really powerful experiences and gained some important insights about myself.

One of the reasons I believe this year’s conference was so important for me, was because it was an opportunity for a break from my identity as a mom. And more specifically, a mom who has lost a child and a mom who currently experiences fertility problems. Motherhood so easily becomes an identity that subsumes the other parts of me that are also important. I’m not saying motherhood shouldn’t often take center stage as it’s a demanding role and an incredibly important role. But it’s certainly not all of me. And it doesn’t fulfill all of the parts of me. And when motherhood also feels so loaded to me with loss and pain, it is so incredibly relieving to be in an environment, where for just a week, I can reconnect with other parts of myself. Parts that too often go neglected.  Parts of me that are outside of my identity of being a mother, wife, and psychologist; the three roles that consume my life right now. Connecting with those other parts was a great way to celebrate my birthday!

IMG_1060Beyond reconnecting with different parts of my identity and personality, I also really valued connecting with others. AGPA is “all about” connection, given it’s hundreds of group psychotherapists merging to commune with each other and learn from each other. The connections with both new faces as well as old friends, was incredibly valuable and rejuvenating for me. It was also through these connections that I had powerful experiences and gleaned new insights into myself.

I had an amazing week last week. I want to keep searching for ways to attend to these other important pieces of my identity as I also navigate those important roles of motherhood, wifedom, and therapist. Is wifedom a thing? Sounds like it should be!

Anyway, I think finding ways to integrate more of ALL of me into my daily life will help me not feel so dependent on AGPA as an annual “Anna emotional splurge.”  I don’t know how I’ll do that, but I want to begin by owning those pieces of my identity instead of trying to squelch them, ignore them, pretend they don’t exist, or feel guilty about them when they emerge. I’m going to look for ways that all of Anna can come out and play!

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Job interview

To extend this theme of bravery in 2016, I am being brave in taking steps to explore my career options. Doing so has been on my radar for about a year. I feel like I’m in a position where I want to evaluate my longer term career goals and how to achieve those goals. Doing so would likely necessitate a change in employment from my current job, which I love, but isn’t fulfilling me professionally.

Last week I interviewed for a professional track position within the BYU psychology department.

This was a job position that I initially dismissed because the posting is for full time. But my friend and dissertation chair, Jared Warren, spent a lot of time trying to convince me to at least apply for the job. This pressure accumulated after Jared invited me to present a case conference to the current clinical psychology PhD students, where after my presentation, Patrick Steffen and Chad Jensen (the training director and a professor) approached me and invited me to lunch. There, Jared, Patrick and Chad wined and dined me (minus the wine) and convinced me to apply for the position, positing that it might be possible for the position to become a part-time position.

So I decided I’d go for it.

IMG_1374I didn’t know, after I applied, that the interview process would be so intense! The interviews took place over three days. During that time I met with several faculty both in the psychology department as well as the clinical psychology department. I also met with grad students, taught a class that was observed by professors, and gave a case conference presentation. Beyond that I had interviews with the Dean of the psychology department, Dean of the College of Family Home and Social Sciences, Associate Vice President of the University, and a General Authority of the LDS Church!

I was assigned Elder Zeballos from Chile, for my GA interview and Chad was invited to attend. I have heard several horror stories of GA interviews being very sexist and shaming toward working women. I attended this interview prepared to come away with my own horror story. Much to my honest AMAZEMENT, Elder Zeballos was incredibly supportive. The interview was intense and involved me bearing my testimony, and answering very pointed questions about how I would teach certain gospel principles.

My favorite parts of the interview came from Chad. Elder Zeballos asked Chad how he felt I would be a good role model and Chad shared that he married me because I was smart, ambitious, and want to help people. He even got teary as he talked about me! In response to another question about Chad’s support of me, Chad told Elder Zeballos that he would “consider it a failure if I didn’t support Anna in her dreams.” My heart GUSHED hearing these things from Chad. It made me fall in love with him all over again!

I was also astounded by the final comment Elder Zeballos shared. I had asked him what they were looking for in faculty they want to hire at BYU and Elder Zeballos said, “We need more couples like you. We need couples like you who are role models and show how two people can pursue graduate schools and careers, while also prioritizing their families and their marriage. It is obvious you two love each other. I know it isn’t easy but you are making it work. We  need youth of the church to see that.” I honestly had to pick my jaw up from the floor! Elder Zeballos was the OPPOSITE of sexist! He was really supportive of our mutual goals and family circumstance! When Chad and I left the interview, I turned to Chad and said, “Wow, I can still be Mormon!”

IMG_1379That experience was a very important experience of feeling valued and wanted by my faith and community. That hasn’t always been the case and isn’t the case for many working LDS mothers. As Jared Warren said, I “won the lottery for a GA interview!”

Overall the interview process to be a professor in the psychology department was intense but also felt valuable. This was the first serious job interview I’ve ever had, outside of internship interviews in graduate school.

I don’t know if I’ll be offered the job, or even if I’ll take it if it’s offered to me. But I feel proud of myself for going through a grueling evaluation process. And it feels very flattering to be considered for the position!

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I am in the process of evaluating my career goals and exploring how I want to pursue those goals. I am also taking into consideration my children and their needs in this process. I hope this summer to make a transition. I’ll keep posting as this process unfolds!