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Thursday, June 9, 2016

" Now That I Have My Master’s Degree, What in Heck Am I Supposed to Do with It..?" 'Bonnie Brenton' (Special edition)

Guest-blogger Bonnie Brenton grew up in Portland, Maine and
 obtained a Masters in counseling from the University of Mass. at Amherst.
Editors note;
Guest blogger  and long time friend Bonnie Brenton lives a very non traditional life.
She is the ultimate free spirit in every sense of the way and lives a very interesting life.
The enclosed blog is a true story and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  ;-)

Now That I Have My Master’s Degree, What in Heck Am I Supposed to
 Do with It? 

                                                           
By the time I received my Master’s degree, I had reached the age
when many of my contemporaries were already retiring. That option
began to look attractive when I faced the dilemma of what should I do!

Before grad school, I had worked as a massage therapist at a fancy
hotel. One day I asked myself, “Is that all there is? Maybe, I should
attend graduate school.” I had a bachelor’s in psychology. Now, I
decided to pursue a Masters in mental health counseling because the
subject interested me. I loved school. I wish I could make a living as a
professional student. I greatly enjoy expressing myself through writing
and speaking. I consider research papers and oral presentations to be
fun activities. I even looked forward to multiple choice exams. I got
almost all A’s. In spite of that, I had to apply to five different schools
before I was accepted. But once I got in, attending classes and turning
in assignments felt like a recreational activity.

Things changed when it was time for my internship. Now, that
was challenging. I finally got through it after a few false starts, a forced,
year long leave of absence, and then having to find a new agency. The
problems were always with the politics of the organization; never with
my clients. I couldn’t wait to graduate and be done with the long hours
required of my internship.

The long awaited day finally arrived! People used to ask me,
“What are you going to do now that you graduated?” I would reply,
“First, I will celebrate. Then, I will take break. Next, I will figure out
what I want to do, and then finally, I will look for a job.” Celebrating and
taking a break were easy steps, but I got stuck on the part about
figuring out what I want to do.

I had worked with children in one of my internships. I experienced
the most success at that placement. I decided since I worked well with
kids, I would take a year long, post-graduate course in play therapy.
Now, I found myself back in school, and I could put off the job search for
another year. The problem was that the other students enrolled in the
class were already working with children, and I began to feel inferior
and depressed. I wasn’t sure why.

As the year drew to a close, I applied for a volunteer job
practicing play therapy with children who had lost a parent. That meant
I could have yet another year figuring out what I want to do. Volunteer
jobs are easy with no pressure. I could set my own hours. I did well
with the children, and my work was/is much appreciated. However, I
recently realized I don’t like working with kids all that much. Just
because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.
I have known for quite sometime that I was born to express myself
through various art forms such as drawing, acting, singing, dancing, and
writing. The problem is I could never earn enough money to support
myself doing what I love. I still do it and find much fulfillment. I just
don’t get paid.

My depression was getting worse. I began to figure out why as I
realized how much I love my massage job. In the interim years, while
attending school, I had continued with massage, but I no longer worked
for a posh hotel. Now, I had become an independent contractor with
my own clients while renting space at a massage clinic.

My massage job spoiled me. I only had to work one day a week. I
had a couple customers whose company I much enjoyed, and I made
enough money to get by if I budgeted carefully. I realized I was already
living the life I want to live! I could not imagine working full time for a
mental health agency. The thought of doing that made me feel anxious
and depressed. Nor, could I become licensed for private practise unless I
worked full time for an agency, for two years.

I do have an anxiety disorder, and some of my friends thought
that it was my anxiety that was stopping me from looking for a job, but
really it was the other way around. I realized getting a job in the
counseling field is not what I want to do, and the thought of doing that
made me feel even more anxious and depressed that I already was. If it
was what I really wanted, no amount of anxiety would stop me!

There is a deeper layer to this story that I hesitate to mention. My
two massage clients get more than just a massage. I admit it. I have
sex with both of them. One of them pays me enough money to live on.
The other one pays me next to nothing, but in turn gives me such an
excellent massage that I allow it. The one who pays more gives me the
most fantastic orgasm I have ever experienced in my life! And to think I
get paid for that. Perhaps now you understand why I love my job and
don’t want to leave it.
In the year since I completed my post graduate, play therapy course, I realized my depression was fueled by an identity crisis. I asked myself if after 10 years of grad school (including the years it took to get accepted), do I want to be a counselor, or do I want to be a sex worker?

My depression eased as I came to grips with the fact that I am indeed a sex worker who enjoys my work with only two customers. I don’t want
anymore customers. The two I have are enough.
My sense of well being and identity were enhanced when I joined
an online support group for sex workers to see if there were others out
there like me. I learned there are others who are similar, but they all
agreed that I am very fortunate to be in the situation I have described.

It has been a long road. I enjoyed my schooling for its own sake
even if I never used it for a career. There is one perk of graduating that I
continue to use. My school allows alumnae to work out at the fitness
center for free. I can do that for the rest of my life!

Now, I am enjoying just being me by doing massage and
expressing myself artistically. (This blog is an example of artistic
expression. Mahalo Kimo!) I might even enjoy counseling other sex workers.

Hana Hou, (Encore)