Understand: Megan S. - Graduate Student

Megan Schmeisser - Graduate Student (Akron, OH)

What's a quote that inspires you?: 

"You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop." -Rumi

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I am a full time graduate student at the University of Akron. I am seeking a Master's in Marriage & Family Therapy, and Professional Counseling, as well as a certificate in Women's Studies. I also hold a position as a graduate assistant for the university, and am neck deep into wedding planning (which is arguably a full time job on some days). For my own mental health and stability, I write for Thought Catalog on the side.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

Therapists are perceived as being always "on" and analyzing the person they are eating dinner with, meeting on the street...you get the picture. I'm used to this apprehension (for my undergrad I was a Family Studies major at Miami University), but I assure you, therapists need downtime too. So unless you're a client, I promise you absolutely no theories or treatment plans have even crossed my mind; I want to be entirely mentally there with the person I am around.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of being a student is being surrounded by people who are all going after the same thing, even though many different paths brought us here (which can sometimes require a little extra understanding and patience). I have been lucky to meet many incredible new friends so far, and I look forward to where these next couple years of learning and self reflection will take me. I love the fact that in graduate courses there are no general education requirements, so each class is geared toward sending us out into the world as effective therapists.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

My least favorite part of being a graduate student is the length of class time. In undergrad, none of my other classes went beyond an hour and fifteen minutes. In my current semester of graduate coursework, I go to school three days a week, for about three hours each time (plus commuting), and the length of time spent sitting down really gets to me. I am an activist at heart, fueled by tactile learning and interaction, so settling in for a couple hours of notetaking is difficult for me.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

Take care of yourself. A counselor spends hours a day pouring into others, helping others, planning for others, and you have to take the time for yourself. I know it can seem selfish, but it's necessary to figure out what your method of self care is and stick to it like a paying job. I love taking pictures (of a purely amateur status), reading books, and exploring new nature trails with my fiancee. Keeping these activities regular, intentional, and meaningful helps keep your batteries charged.

What's your definition of success?

I know saying "do what you love" is overly simplistic, but it rings true for me again and again. I started my undergraduate education with a totally different major that had the promise of making everyone in the world of the grandiose "American Dream" happy: high starting salary, job security, the list goes on. However, after getting a low grade in a entry class for my major (twice!), and a come to Jesus with my academic advisor where she asked me what was the point if I wasn't happy, I made the switch. 

And it was the most emotionally stressful point in my life, where I made a massive choice, and had to prove the naysayers (who were few but quite loud) wrong. I fell out of touch with people who didn't understand my choices, it felt like canoeing without oars for a little bit.

I loved every second of my academic switch to Family Studies program. My mentors were strong women who stood tall, my new classmates showed me endless ways to get involved with the community, and I gained (a start of) the insight into myself and others that I had been yearning for.

Life is simply too short to do something safe, or because someone told you so. I truly believe that's a waste of the breath God gave us. So success to me means holding to your beliefs and being comfortable not giving in to the societal pressures, following your heart to where it takes you and learning along the way.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

You can contact me via Twitter (@schmeizzy), of view more of my offbeat musings on life that way. My Thought Catalog profile also links to articles I have written, and my email address (http://thoughtcatalog.com/megan-schmeisser/).

Leave us with one parting piece of advice.

Love each other fully, because we are all we have.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.