Michelle L. Manning

How do you solve a problem like Michelle?

The answer to this question seemed to confound the people who knew me best. Like my mom. Who insisted I distribute the senior portrait she paid for in lieu of the self-portrait-on-a-sticky note I trusted would represent my character much better than the hand-under-the chin portrait preferred by my peers.

How does a problem like Michelle end up treating the problems of others?

This is the true head-scratcher. Never the sharpest tool in the shed, it’s safe to say that I’m not the most sensitive/sympathetic/thoughtful and/or considerate tool either. You know, all the things that make someone a good therapist.

And yet, despite the sensibilities I’d have even if raised by wolves; the protestations of grad school (concerned my authentic sensibilities more closely resembled an authentic psychopath); and/or my phobic response to the phrase, “How does that make you feel?”, She, of Zero Sympathy, happens to be a pretty good therapist. For one reason …

What’s in the water?

Conventional ideologies and I have had a love/hate relationship throughout my life. Like water pouring from the tap, they were filling my glass always trying to tell me what it is to be a girl; what it is to be successful; what it is to be happy.

For most people, conventional confines appeal to who they are or who they want to be. For me, conventional confines are just that: confining. Yet unlike most people, they failed to determine whether I liked myself in the morning. Only my identity could do that.

But the ability to distinguish between conventional ideologies and authentic sensibilities is not what makes me a good therapist. I’m a good therapist because I love my job. And what’s not to love?

I work with people on a daily basis who want more from life than what they’re getting. And they’re investing their time, money, emotional security, and energy into learning how to make that happen. Learning how to find the path toward peace of mind. Even if it’s bumpy.

And since I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, the bumpy path tends to be my preferred route. But that’s what seatbelts are for … right?

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