It seems to be a common assumption that, at some point in our lives, we will seek to find ourselves. To discover who we are and what we stand for. Who we want to be.
Five weeks in OT school has taught me that, at this point in my career, this idea is more true now than ever.
I am learning that OT school is about more than simply accumulating knowledge. Knowledge is important, and theory and technical skills are necessary for good practice. But before any of that knowledge turns into practice, it is vital that we discover who we are as therapists and what we have to offer. Self-awareness is critical. Who we are and what we believe affects how we interact with people, how we relate to them. And as OTs, it is our job to use everything we have to offer in order to connect with people and help them get back on their feet. If we don’t really understand what our own strengths, values, shortcomings, and tendencies of thought and behavior are, we run the risk of selling our clients short by not giving them our best.
This point in our career is perhaps one of the most important we will encounter. It is a formative period. It is when we are encouraged to become the most aware of our personality traits and difficulties, so that we can start improving on them now. It is when we are graded on our ability to look at ourselves objectively and identify areas in which we want to grow. It is when we are asked to set definitive goals for how we are going to improve ourselves so that we can help improve others. This is when we decide what kind of therapist we want to be.
Self-awareness can be hard, because it forces us to confront the things that we don’t like about ourselves. But becoming aware of our shortcomings in a supportive and constructive environment such as the one we are currently in is a unique opportunity that I think many people may never have. Our professors are here to build us up, not tear us down. They want to see us succeed.
And so I am learning that honest self-awareness is perhaps the step at the bottom of the bridge that allows us to begin to move from a head full of knowledge to a career full of opportunities where we will have the chance to be with people and help them out in an important way during some of their most difficult times in life. And if that is the case, then self-awareness is not simply for the sake of our own personal transformation, but also for the sake of those with whom we will work to transform.
Honest self-awareness may not be easy or comfortable. But it gives us the insight into how we can improve, and the power to do so.
And I think that’s awesome.