A little bit about Mary Kate:
Mary Kate Carroll is an fresh entry-level occupational therapist figurin’ it out and doin’ her best. She graduated from Gannon University in May 2017 with her Master’s degree in occupational therapy. She’s probably at the Root Cafe in Lakewood, Ohio, reading a book about conspiracy theories or buying tickets for the next Front Bottoms show. Follow her on twitter @MaryKateCarroll
What makes Mary Kate unique?
First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to Brandi for allowing me to be a guest contributor on her blog! I’m so happy to help her on her new series! Brandi explicitly stated “Make sure anything you write you feel comfortable enough to share on social media.” Well, I guess I’m an open book. Sorry in advance, readers. It’s about to get personal.
I should probably open my guest post by explaining a bit about myself. I attended the same school and program as Brandi, although I’m two years older than her. I graduated this past May with my Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. Since graduation, I’ve probably experienced every single life stressor described on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Moving from school back in with my parents, studying for my boards, job hunting, apartment hunting, a breakup with someone who I thought was my “forever,” loss of my college social supports, etc. It’s a lot to handle. Due to all these changes, I’ve reluctantly booted up the old Tinder profile and updated the LinkedIn page. I’ve been haunted with the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question for weeks, whether from a professional viewpoint, like in an interview or from a romantic scope, like on a date.
The truth is, I’ve been struggling with finding out “who I am” ever since leaving college. I think I lost myself amidst the challenging coursework my program mandates. When I wasn’t studying or in my grueling classes, I was padding up my resume with volunteer work or extracurriculars. When I wasn’t padding my resume, I was writing for Gannon Edge as a contributor. When I wasn’t working, I was trying to cling to my last bits of social time with my friends. When I wasn’t with my friends, I was trying desperately to make my long distance relationship work, finding a way to move to Pittsburgh after graduation. When I wasn’t with my then-boyfriend, I was trying to catch up on sleep. I didn’t really have any hobbies, any major outlets to find myself. If people were to ask me “What makes you unique?” I would struggle answering the question. Why am I special? How am I different from any other 23 year-old recent graduate? Why should you hire me? Why should you date me?
I still sometimes struggle with answering this question, even three months after graduation. The nice thing about this Huge Tidal Wave of Change was that it gave me a clean slate. A fresh start to figure out my life. Since May, I’ve passed my boards and have started my career as an occupational therapist with the most amazing healthcare organization. I’ve found my very first apartment, as empty and new as I feel. I’ve explored some new hobbies, like signing up for dance classes. I’ve returned to some old interests as well, like playing my beloved ukulele or getting involved with theatre again or writing (yay!). I’ve explored new places near my future home while still visiting my frequent haunts from time to time. Slowly but surely, I’ve expanded my social circle, like meeting the loveliest couple at a 50’s prom themed bar crawl or asking out potential love interests for coffee.
Through my journey, here are some things I discovered about myself. Here is how I can finally answer the question “What makes you unique?”
My name is Mary Kate Carroll. I am 23 years old. I am an occupational therapist. I love my job, especially interacting with my patients, hearing their stories, watching them progress. I no longer run out of the room when one of my patients puke. I’ve mastered how to put on compression stockings. I really love how welcoming and friendly my coworkers are. I still like going to gigs at the local bar-turned-bowling-alley-turned-concert-venue, but I also like the little outside patios and cafes in my new place of residence. I’ve adopted a “Let People Enjoy Things” attitude when it comes to interests—no more judging people for doing what makes them happy (mainly listening to country music. This was a huge bridge to cross). I will probably always have a soft spot for musicians that aren’t good for me, but I really want to be with someone who has a career plan. I am among my own kind at the weekly pub trivia nights. My friends are slowly making me enjoy craft beer. My burlesque name would probably be “Atomic Blondie.” I love alien/crime/paranormal documentaries on Netflix. Black coffee is still gross. I love that I’m finally forming a closer sibling bond with my brother now that we’re both older. I will forever be grateful to my parents for giving me the world, and then still letting me bum around in their house until I get my feet planted on the ground. I really, really can’t wait to move into my own place. My best qualities are my empathy and compassion. I want to continually be in the process of discovering myself. I am still figuring it out. I am happy, happier than I’ve ever been. I am a work in progress. Most importantly, I am unique.