6 Year Circle - 10.23.00

Over the course of the past couple months, I've come to realize that I'm sort of a sponge for people when they're venting or frustrated. I don't say this as something that I'm mad about or even frustrated with, as I'm glad that people can lay it all on the line with and trust me. In fact, I want to be that person that people trust with their innermost fears and worries. It's one of the reasons that my first major in college was psychology and probably also the reason that I stopped doing it my sophomore year.

I'm aware that I just managed to contradict that whole first paragraph in one fell swoop with that last sentence, but please allow me to explain. About the time that I was in junior high was when I first really think I realized I had an interest in psychology. At this point, I was reading books by Stephen King (as many people that age undoubtedly did) and always found myself fascinated with the stories that dealt with things that went on inside peoples minds instead of the monster story types. Dead Zone was always one of my favorites because it dealt with more of psychological issues (albeit supernatural ones) and although I was equally interested in ESP (another quite possibly fishy movement) and the like, it was what I would consider my first introduction to it all.

In high-school, I was offered a course in psychology and I leapt at the chance to take it. I read the course books for class fairly voraciously and even went outside the classwork to read things related to the field (something I never did) just to satisfy my curiosity. By the time that I graduated from high-school (even though I'd only really had one (and a half) classes in the subject, I felt that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was fascinated by how the mind worked and hoped that I could help people by knowing and studying it even more intently in college (and beyond).

My first year of college held true for me and I continued on my way. My psychology teacher for one of my classes was also my advisor and I was rolling. I did well in my first class and thought that I could even handle the many years needed beyond undergraduate level to get to where I wanted to be. Basically, I was very into the subject and I even found times where I would knowingly say things to friends just to see what their reaction would be. True, it wasn't very nice of me, and any information that I gleaned from them really didn't mean a whole lot, but I was completely fascinated by the process and thoughts.

My sophomore year, I had a bit of a blowout, though. In addition to going through a more boring side (or at least, that's what I considered it) of the field with the class Statistics and Measurements (that was all about interpreting numbers in control groups, etc), I took a class that focused in a bit more on the darker side of psychology. I started reading about clinical depression and other rather heavy subjects and instead of continuing my thoughts that I could help people, I instead went through sort of a crisis where I completely doubted that I would ever get to the point that I could help someone. It may have had something to do with the entire self-doubt phase that I had in college or simply that I got burned-out and wasn't meant to do it, but after the first semester I changed my major to art.

One of the major things that convinced me to make the turnaround was a thought that I had that not only would I not be able to help people, but that all the things that people told me would eventually weigh me down enough that I couldn't function properly. Although I knew it would be a job, I knew that I would get very involved emotionally and didn't think I would have what it took to seperate myself from the cases that I was discussing. I realized that I was looking at it from a long way down the road, but I thought better to stop things before I got too far and realized I had this problem.

Shooting back to present, I have to admit that although I officially stopped with my psychology major almost 6 years ago now, I've still held an interest in it. I've read books on the subject occassionally and am currently toiling through Freuds large work on dream interpretation (about 850 pages worth). The interesting thing, though, and the reason that I started this piece in the first place is that over the course of this year, I feel like I've been a person that people often discuss things with.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not taking the place of a psychologist, and I realize that my conversations with friends are just that, but I just find the whole progression very interesting considering where I was about 7 years ago at this time. I've had a lot of long conversations in the past half year, and while many of them have been very positive, I've felt like I've been the person on which huge things were revealved. Most of the times, It's just been part of a normal progression of talking with the person I'm friends with, but several times it has happened and then as soon as things are better for the person, I don't hear from them as often.

Yet another interesting point to all this (to me anyway) is that instead of absorbing all this venting and negative, I've actually managed to stay fairly upbeat through it all in my own life. Sure, there have been weeks where I've had a couple emotional bombs dropped on me within a short period and I've walked around a bit stunned for awhile, but for the most part I've managed to keep my head on straight while trying to say the right things (or not say them at all).

Anyway, I don't want this to sound like I'm whining or upset, because I'm actually flattered that people I know feel comfortable discussing the things that they do with me. I still have those doubts as to whether I'm actually doing anything to make the person feel any better, but as I know from venting myself, just the fact that someone is there to listen is the best thing.