A Bullshit Artist With An Attentive Eye

I’ve been thinking lately about if and when I want to go back to work, and what I would even want to do, and I’m struggling. I don’t know if I want to be in direct practice anymore, and I don’t think I have the patience to work with addicts or mentally ill people anymore.

Most of the time in my old role, I felt like an imposter.

I knew a bit about addiction, given my upbringing, but that’s a tough population to work with, particularly when it is co-occurring with mental illness, as it so often is. I don’t know enough about mental illnesses or treatment modalities to identify what might be wrong with someone or a good way to intervene. I have an idea of these things, but not enough enough to be confident. And frankly, while I do want to be confident, I don’t want to spend the time it would take to become confident.

Instead, I know how to read people, and I knew how to improvise. When I got a tough question from a client, I would try to think of it logically and offer an answer or suggestion out there. Then I’d read their reaction and modify as necessary. In my therapy and education groups, I did the same thing: I would throw something out for the group to pick up and go from there.

Over the years, I became unflappable. But I never felt like more than a bullshit artist with an attentive eye.

I know I will go back to work one day, and I’m not sure what job I would love to have for many years. How did you figure it out?


Tough Questions


6 thoughts on “A Bullshit Artist With An Attentive Eye

  1. What a great question.

    I was given some really good career advice years ago, which was: “Figure out how you want people to view you, then find a career that facilitates that.”

    For the friend who advised me (who was a psychologist by training) she wanted to be viewed as “smart”. She ended up working only part time in psychology, and instead worked as a mathematician, which was where I met her.

    I decided I wanted to be viewed as “an expert” or “a guru” and I trained for the field I’m now in, where I am indeed viewed that way.

    I hope that helps.

    – S.B.

    1. Wow! I never thought of it from that perspective! (Although, as I wrote earlier this week, I’m quite adept at watching myself from outside.) I wanted to work at 21 Jump Street, by which I mean, I wanted to work on a team that did important life or death things that not a lot of people could do. Vital things. In a way, I felt like I was doing that. But I was also doing paperwork, getting IDs, filling out paperwork, organizing case files, keeping my certification up to date… Minutiae that just dragged me down. So how would I want to be viewed now? That’s a great suggestion; thank you.

  2. I think many of us feel we’re faking our way through our jobs af times. Especially for those doing work which falls into soft sciences or arts or human services, and doesn’t require a professional certification. I don’t really know either how not to feel otherwise. Perhaps its more of a mindset shift which is needed. From, what am I doing?? To, I know what I’m doing even if it’s not done perfectly.

    1. Definitely, the “soft sciences.” Because its not all cut and dried. I like the reframing you suggest, because, the reality is, there are probably many ways to do it “right” in a field like this.

  3. I never did make up my mind. I know I live to learn and try new things, so I’ve switched jobs often. I’ve never been on a career track, but have had some wonderful jobs and am happy with my choices because beneath all that, I’m who I want to be, and it shapes the way I see the world: I’m a writer.

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