Editors note: This is a guest post from Carla Archuletta. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story and experience of building a private practice. Carla shares some insights from her story as she looks to begin her career as a therapist. We’d love to hear your story. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for more information.
Independence is a gift that requires commitment and courage—a lot of courage. My highest respect goes out to those of you who’ve made a commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit and independence in starting your own private practice or counseling agency.
As I near the end of my graduate counseling experience as student, I am aware that being an entrepreneur is challenging, exhausting, overwhelming, frightening, hard-won, motivating, and wonderful…all at the same time. It’ll force you to confront your deepest insecurities and your worst fears. It’ll give you the fortitude to perform your most dreaded and mundane tasks with dignity and grace. It’ll heighten your awareness and appreciation of every small step forward, adding greater significance to each success and achievement. More often than not, it’ll rake you over the coals and knock you on your keester. And when you least expect it, it’ll reward you in a multitude of different ways. It’ll birth well-deserved confidence and the conviction to say, ‘This is my calling, this is my gifting, this is my dream, and I’m going to do it.’ And you’ll find joy in the least expected places.
Being entrepreneurial and independent, in charge of your own career and perhaps responsible for the livelihood of others, is nothing short of terrifying. But you’re not alone. I can’t imagine anyone in a place of leadership—whether it’s over yourself, a small counseling staff, or an entire agency—who doesn’t sometimes close their eyes and think, “Someone’s going to figure out that I really don’t know exactly what I’m doing.”
Recently, my fears and anxiety erupted when I accepted the fact that I will graduate in December and I don’t know what my life will look like after I graduate. I was lost in a never-ending sea of “what, when, how” questions. Frightened of not knowing how I’m going to pay for supervision in working toward licensure; frightened of not knowing how I’m going to repay my student loans when all my expenses are going up; frightened of making a decision without my trusted graduate school advisors’ wise counsel and input; and basically just frightened of having to trust my own gut and instinct. My colleague, friend, and fellow graduate student, Erica, said recently, “Carla, realx, trust, and know that you’re gonna be fine.”
I remember one of the most defining and paralyzing moments of this same kind of fear during my first year of promoting independent artists. I was running the whole operation out of a one-bedroom apartment filled with boxes full of artists promo materials. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the Internet, let alone marketing and creating a platform for independent artists. Despite my lack of knowledge, I managed to land several opportunities via the web. During an initial planning meeting at one of my music industry colleague’s home, she remarked about how overwhelmed she was by the progress we made and pleased with the many new opportunities popping up. I closed my eyes, buried my face in my hands and burst into an anxiety attack, saying, “I’ve done it now! They’ll think what I created is a real webzine! They’re all going to figure out I don’t know exactly what I’m doing!” My colleague put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Carla, relax. It’ll be okay and you’re gonna be just fine.”
Most strong woman I know go through this fear and insecurity. Even the likes of Dolly Parton, Oprah, Taylor Swift, and Madonna have openly shared their fear of being found out as insecure. In reality it’s all just smoke and mirrors, no matter what level you’re dealing with or who you are. I’ve learned that in the end, confidence will come. It just comes with perseverance, persistence, and a lot of hard work.
I am aware that doing something on your own like starting a private practice without a perceived safety net isn’t for everyone—not by a long shot or by any stretch of the imagination. For those of you, like me, who are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and independence—or perhaps considering it as a viable option—all the while doubting your ability to be in charge; remember no one is more qualified than you to do it. When you’re ready, you’ll know when it’s time to make the commitment and trust your instincts. You may have to close your eyes and—as those successful entrepreneurs and independents before you—take a step of faith and walk the tightrope without a perceived safety net to fully embrace what entrepreneurship and independence has to offer. I’m pulling for you. And remember, relax. You’re gonna be just be fine. And as for me, I will do the same. After all, my December 2015 graduation date will be here sooner than I realize!
Carla Archuletta is a graduate counseling student at Trevecca Nazarene University and a master’s level intern at The Refuge Center for Counseling located in Franklin, Tennessee.