It’s Not Really That I Like It, It’s More That I Need It….

At various times during the past 30 years, cleaning people’s homes has been a main source of my income. Although this is not a very glamorous job, it has supported me throughout much of my adult life, and I am more than grateful for it. It is a good job to have as a college student, as my schedule is apt to change every semester, and not every job offers that kind of flexibility.

My clients have always been flexible and allowed me to change their days as often as I needed to. I work alone which means I set the pace according to how I feel each day. High energy days I am done quickly; low energy days I feel like a turtle. I do not have a supervisor standing over me (other than my clients’ pets who really seem to be monitoring me), and loud singing and bad dancing are permitted. Although I am grateful for having work all these years, I don’t really like cleaning houses….or so I thought.

Several years ago I met someone new who asked me if I cleaned houses because I like cleaning. WHAT???!!! Does anyone like cleaning? No, I do not like cleaning I said very sarcastically. Geez. What a stupid question. It’s dirty and I’m tired. Of course I hate cleaning, don’t I? Friday while I was cleaning my own house, I had an AHA moment. Counselors usually love AHA moments, because learning occurs, but I did not want to learn this particular lesson.

I have learned patience as I have gotten older, but I still have trouble waiting. I love instant gratification. I like pressing ‘enter’ and having information at your fingertips. I like eating in restaurants because you place your order, and almost instantly food appears. I like any kind of makeovers because almost instantly you see change. I admit that immediately following exercise, I begin looking for results, and get discouraged just as instantly. Same goes for taking tests or turning in papers; I honestly begin looking for results within hours. Waiting is a process that I don’t enjoy, but know that I have to do.

So, what I learned is this. I do not like the process of cleaning, but I like the way it feels when my house is clean. I don’t like the process of having my teeth cleaned, but I like the way it feels when my teeth are clean. I don’t like painting my house, but I like the way it looks when it is freshly painted. Sometimes in life we must go through things we don’t like, in order to get to things we do like. Sometimes the sooner the payoff, the easier it is to go through with it.

It dawned on me that this need for instant gratification could negatively affect me in my future role as a counselor, if I let it. As a counselor, I must put aside my desire to see instant results in my clients. They will come into counseling with different needs than mine. They may be begin “cleaning” one room when another mess appears elsewhere, and their attention is diverted. In the meantime the original mess may reappear and be worse than before. Clients may want to throw a tablecloth on a dirty table to buy some time. Out of sight out of mind may work for a while, but one day the tablecloth will have to come off and reveal the mess underneath. I will need to be patient with my clients and let them decide what “mess” to clean up first. I may need to gently remind them of the mess under the tablecloth and assist them in removing it to reveal what may be hidden. I need to be patient and wait for my clients to decide that they are ready to begin the “cleaning” process. This is their house, not mine.

So, I guess the AHA moment is that I think I NEED to clean houses still. I did not want to learn this. I have been hoping to retire from cleaning when I get a job as a mental health counselor, but it seems that I NEED something that gives me instant gratification. That is not to say that my career won’t be gratifying as a whole, but it will rarely be instant. I had begun to tentatively count down how much longer I might have to clean and was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but now I am not sure. Maybe I can find something that is less strenuous, still allows for bad singing and dancing, and provides instant gratification. Anyone know how I put those job expectations on my resume?

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