This was the best advice I’ve ever received from anyone, and I am passing it on. It came from my clinical supervisor, a very wise man. I was moaning and groaning about how difficult my life was. I was running an extremely challenging experimental group home for people with intellectual disabilities, trying to write my dissertation, and coping with personal turmoil. I was bereft with to-do lists coming out of the yin-yang and my friends couldn’t relate. I had just gotten divorced, and was overworked, underpaid, stressed, and not having fun. My writing and research schedule kept me from having joy in my life. I was behind in my bills, and finally decided the only thing to do was to tell him I couldn’t go on with my dissertation, that I should drop out of school, forget about psychology and try to reclaim my love live, my social life, and my scantily held grip on reality. He very calmly and assuredly put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and told me: “Give up.”
I was incredulous. The conversation went something like this:
I recommend you give up.
Yes, of course. Nothing is working out how you planned, your personal life is chaotic, you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, and have no idea what is going to happen, yes?
So give up.
What about my dissertation?
Let it go. What do you need that for? All it is going to do is prepare you for a career with disturbed people, more headaches, disappointments and obstacles. I say let it go.
Just like that?
Just like that.
Just give up?
Just give up.
Just give up and do nothing?
Maybe get a hotdog pushcart in the city. Sell hotdogs on the street. It is a good living, you are your own boss, and you are independent. I see you as a hotdog vendor.
You think I should sell hotdogs?
Yes, the good ones. Of course you will have to get a permit to have a business, a pushcart business, from the city. And insurance, for when someone sues you because the hotdogs were not cooked well enough. And you will need to display a certificate of approval from the board of health inspection. They are picky and difficult, but you can deal with them. And, people will criticize you and your good hotdogs. And hoodlums will steal your fine food, and try to rob you at night when you come home with cash. You will be frightened about walking home, but you can hire bodyguards. And be sure to get up early so no one steals your good spot on the street. Are you a good fistfighter?Being social is too much work.