So, I think I might be dropping the act more permanently than I thought.
As I mentioned in my last entry, I recently started working on an explicitly creative project, and in that project, Maya Moonstone (my alter ego, and the namesake of this blog) is featured as a narrator/character in a framing narrative. Her essence is needed there, and I find that this means there is now less of a need for her here.
She might pop up every now-and-again. I can’t say she’s gone forever. But for now, you’re stuck with me.
So, who is the person behind the schtick? I’m going to stop hiding behind the cryptic initials and get real.
Hi! My name is Sarah. I’m 30 years old, I have a cat named Finn, and I live in a basement apartment in the New York Hudson Valley. For the past three and a half years, I have been supporting myself and my cat by working as a tutor and Adjunct Professor–with as many as four jobs at a time!–but it’s making me miserable. I’m also neurodivergent (suspected to be on the autism spectrum), fat, and queer. I’ve been in an abusive relationship with academia most of my life, but I’m workin’ on it, and I’m planning to relate to it in a new capacity soon–I’m applying to at least one PsyD program in California so I can study psychospiritual depth psychology, which is a type of psychology that has helped my mentally ill ass a lot over the past 5 years.
I’m at a pretty critical juncture right now. For so long I’ve been blindly stumbling around trying desperately to establish myself in a career that I don’t hate and can meet my needs, but I had been doing all that with only half of a brain. The other half had been preoccupied with navigating life with a bunch of emotional handicaps: I was really emotionally unstable, and stuff that went wrong in my personal life could, and sometimes DID, throw me off enough that it could knock me way off course. I don’t think of myself as a directionless person–I’ve always been in touch with a sense of ambition–and yet here I am, a high performer, but having finished out my 20’s still spinning in circles in some ways.
When I finished my Master’s in 2017, I knew I was going to go back to school for a doctoral degree sooner or later. At first I thought it would be in Media Studies, but over time my doubts about whether that was the right path grew. Something was stopping me from plowing full steam ahead toward that goal, but I didn’t know exactly what it was. I now know that it just didn’t feel right, and that’s because it wasn’t.
Last fall, soon after meeting my partner–and also around the time My Chemical Romance got back together, which is totally 100% a coincidence and probably not related at all (JK it is, that’s a whole other story)–I started to have a bunch of emotional revelations. I realized that going to school for Media Studies with the goal of teaching and writing about it wasn’t what I wanted for my career. It sounded fun, but I felt in this wordless way that I needed to dedicate myself to something that could make a more direct impact on people’s lives. At first I thought, maybe I’ll go to law school. I was teaching LSAT prep courses at the time, and really enjoying it, and I figured that the argumentative aspects of lawyering could be really satisfying for me. Plus, doing something like immigration law or working with survivors of domestic violence could be really rewarding and impactful, which ticks the “direct impact on people’s lives” box.
But then over the early part of quarantine, I lost my mind in the best way possible. All that time by myself in my apartment, kept company only by my cat–and the sweet, sweet, legal Massachusetts weed I had happily just stocked up on when everything started to shut down–I fervently danced and wrote and daydreamed my way into a madness that got me back in touch with a part of myself I had abandoned a long time ago. It was a creative, vulnerable, and mystical part of me–in fact, now that I write this, I realize it’s the very part that Maya Moonstone embodies–and it helped me figure out some things about what I really wanted, and what I wanted my daily life to feel like. I realized that I do not want the fast-paced and high-stress life of a lawyer. I want to have space in my life for nature, for writing, and for dreaming. I also realized that, while the end result would have been meaningful, the process of becoming a lawyer did not excite me. I imagine that I probably would have had to read a whole bunch of dry legal documents written in bullshit language about stuff I wasn’t even particularly interested in, and I was like, fuck that.
I try to be a really self-reflective person–that is, at all times, I try to understand what, on an emotional level, motivates my reactions, impulses, and decision-making. Because although we all like to think of ourselves as being aware and in-control of ourselves, the reality is that so many of us are deeply unconscious when it comes to that which moves us from below. Part of sorting out what I wanted to do for my career was separating out my very real ambitions from the expectations I had put on myself, out of a belief that I was “less-than” and had to prove myself in some way.
The set of circumstances that led me to believe that I had to “achieve” in very optically appealing ways is complicated, and more than I want to get into here. Suffice to say, I certainly fit the description of an over-achiever, and I think on some level I felt like I needed to hold a position of some visible prestige, like a high-powered attorney or a college professor of a cutting-edge subject at a top university. To me, the promise of a title like that looked to me like a symbolic shield I could hold between myself and any thoughts, feelings, or words that would make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. The prestige also symbolized a sort of “shortcut” to greatness: if I could achieve X prestigious role, I had made it, and I wouldn’t have to struggle to carve out my own way though uncertain terrain.
When I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, this idea of prestige wound up taking precedence over my actual happiness. I’m sure I could have found a way to be happy as a lawyer, but I also know myself, and I know that the type of work it would demand, and the amount of it, would likely keep me in a state of perpetual overwhelm.
When I realized all this, I began to panic. I’m someone who REALLY likes to know what the plan is (there’s another autistic trait!), and to me nothing is more unmooring than abandoning a plan, even if I know it’s for the best.
It’s hard for me to remember my exact thought process over the couple months that followed. I know I was spending a lot of time stoned, trying to work on writing projects but not getting anywhere, and reading and watching a ton of stuff about metaphysics. If you didn’t notice, I’m really interested in metaphysics. During this aimless time, I fully threw myself into that interest, and I swear, I was spending most of my time on another plane of existence. That’s probably why it’s hard to piece together what was going on!
If memory serves when it comes to the timelines, this was all happening over the summer, so there was the added structureless-ness of being entirely out of work and free from all obligation. My partner and I went on a lot of hikes during that time. We also went to Vermont for my birthday, and spent a collective couple of weeks staying at a rental property in the middle of nowhere that my parents own. I would fervently write in my journal on a daily basis. I was also, specifically, watching a ton of videos of people describing their experiences with ayahuasca. Sometimes, I would intensely focus on redecorating the interior of my apartment, or on some craft or another (I refurbished some tables, redecorated a funky mirror I owned, made my own potpourri, went wineberry picking and made pies… I could go on).
I marked the end of my summer with two psilocybin mushroom trips, about a month apart from one another. For the first, I went to a public park; for the second, I stayed in my own backyard while my landlady and her son were away on vacation. For both trips, my partner soberly trip-sat me and lovingly made sure I had everything I wanted and needed to feel safe and be comfortable. In my memory, the two trips feel very connected: both of them brought me peace and feelings of harmony with nature, and they seemed to both contribute to the revelation I would have about my career direction.
Part of investigating metaphysics, for me, was about investigating and uncovering my own intuitive gifts. I was getting deeply in touch with an insightful and empathetic portion of myself, which, in my old jobs and old life, only had precious few opportunities to come out. For a while, I had contemplated becoming a therapist, but would go limp at the idea of having to go through all that school–I assumed the only way to do it would be to get a second Master’s degree, which would have felt like going backwards. So, I fantasized about ways to do the same kind of work without having to jump through the “hoops.” I wanted to be a tarot reader. I wanted to learn astrology and do work as a “psychic.” The thing is, though, that a decently-sized part of me knew I would feel like a grifter doing something like that, since there is no formal training for it. To be clear, I’m not shitting on professional psychics or tarot readers–it just didn’t feel right for me.
On one of my trips, I was thinking about all of that, and probably talking about it aloud to my partner. I remember that I was laying on the grass next to a wineberry bush at the park. I remember feeling like I was laying on Mother Earth’s fertile belly, and that she was nurturing me with her energy (mushrooms will do that). I don’t know exactly how I arrived there, but I remember saying to my partner, “If I didn’t care about the logistics or the money, I would just say ‘fuck it’ and become a therapist.”
My partner was basically like, “Ok… why don’t you just do that then?” And it was the dumbest thing, but in that moment something clicked into place.
I sat on it for a bit. But around the same time, I was reading a book called Healing Our Deepest Wounds: The Holotropic Paradigm Shift by Dr. Stanislav Grof. To explain Dr. Grof and his work would be a huge can of worms to get into right now, so all I’ll say is that he deals in psychedelic-assisted therapy and psychospiritual depth psychology. In other words, he spent his life studying and practicing new metaphysical kinds of therapy that are actually incredibly effective, and which do not stigmatize people with personality disorders and psychosis the way that mainstream psychology does. One night, I was reading that book in bed, and I came across a passage–I don’t even remember what it was right now–and I found it so fascinating that I realized I would be happy dedicating my studies to the subject.
So I did a bit of research, and I found a school that not only teaches that type of psychology, but which would allow me to avoid getting a second Master’s and go straight to the doctoral level. So that’s where I’m applying. And I’m fucking psyched (ugh, accidental pun).
So… that’s where I’m at right now. I don’t expect that many of my future posts will be long and narrate-y like this, but I felt the need to put this out there, as some context for my blog.
I guess what I haven’t mentioned is that another factor that went into the decision to study psychology was that I can imagine that career fitting in nicely alongside other pursuits. I have wanted to be a writer–like, someone who publishes books–since I was literally seven years old. I also have a burning desire to launch a YouTube channel and amass a following, so I can have a platform to share my ideas about media analysis, sociocultural analysis, and emotional nuance. I can see myself using my time to its fullest with these three major pursuits–and enjoying every minute of it (or, nearly–there’s always some BS).
I’ve been making progress. This blog is a step–it’s one of several outlets for writing. As I have mentioned in a previous entry, I started work on a graphic novel. I just finished my application to the PsyD program. I keep making stabs at video scripts, but I keep feeling unsatisfied with my work–maybe it’s not time yet. We shall see.
I also have some other shit up my sleeve, but we’ll talk about that another day. For now, we will keep some things mysterious.