Mental wellbeing for young people

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How I worked out what to do with my life

Kate Middleton photo Kate Middleton · 28 Jun, 2020

"I never worry too much about the long term things, and I've always ended up in the right place." Kate shares a bit of her journey and how it hasn't exactly stuck to the original plan.

Hi, so my name's Kate and I work as a psychologist and a church leader in Hertfordshire. But I wanna tell you a little bit about my story, which is how I ended up doing what I'm doing, and I didn't intend to do this.

When I started out, when I was a teenager, when I was thinking about what my life plan might be. And this is why I am wearing this rather fetching thing around my neck, because this is something I keep on my shelf as a bit of an old keepsake, because this is my old stethoscope from when I was a med student.

So, let me tell you a little bit about my story. I started out, I went to school in Chester in Cheshire, right near the Welsh border. And I was one of those kids who got really good grades, but I'd never really thought about what I wanted to do, except that I loved people. I was so fascinated by the way people's minds worked and how they thought and what made them think and act and react the way they did, and most of all, when people's emotions caused them loads of problems like, how could you get out of that? If life was dealing you a rough hand, how could you still get on and do well and still be happy and stuff like that? I was always fascinated and I wanted to do psychology because I was fascinated by that stuff.

But in my day, psychology was seen as a bit of a dropout subject. And because my grades were super good, it was this kind of weird thing that it felt like I should have the whole world of options ahead of me, but actually it felt like they were really narrow because my school and my parents and everyone was saying to me that I had to do one of one, two, three really specific things.

And actually for a long time, I was gonna get sent off to study engineering, which, nothing personal to anyone who's interested in that, but I think it would have been a bit of a yawn-fest, so I'm really glad I didn't do it. And literally at the last moment I changed and one of the options that have been given to me was to go off and study medicine.

So that's what I did, I was so, so lucky, got into med school and went off and I had the most awesome time. I loved medicine, it was so, so interesting. Thus, why I've still got my old stethoscope. But every year when I started the beginning of each year, I kind of knew that it wasn't what I wanted to do. I mean, one thing just that you think might have occurred to me beforehand was that I hate hospitals. I remember the very first day I went on the wards thinking, oh crap, I hate hospitals, what am I thinking? And I just kind of knew I wouldn't ever really work as a doctor, it just wasn't what I wanted to do. It was dead interesting, but it wasn't what I wanted to do, it wasn't what I was supposed to be doing.

And I was a follower of Jesus, even back then in those days, and, I just, whenever I prayed about it or thought about what it felt like God wanted me to do, again, it just felt like it really wasn't to be a doctor. Every year when I started the year, I thought this is great fun, but I don't think I'm gonna do this, and I felt guilty. And I wrestled a bit with like, should I quit? Each year, I remember thinking about is this the year that I should quit? But I never did.

Until one day, and I was right the way through in my fourth year. So I'd been at med-school quite a while and I was doing dead well, but I was on the wards and there was just this moment. And I'd spent loads of time talking to this patient and they had some physical stuff going on, but much more than that, life was throwing some rough stuff at them and so we were chatting about like, how did they manage that emotionally? And to me, it was really clear that part of the reason they were unwell physically was because of stuff that was going on in their head because life was brutal. And when I got back to talk to the consultant and you have to give these really concise little summaries of medically what's going on with the patient. And I suddenly realised I had no clue, I hadn't asked a single medical question. All I'd done was talk to them about psychology.

And in that moment, I just knew. And, I quit. And long story short, I changed degree course and did a conversion degree. So I have a degree in medicine and then I got my degree in psychology and then I went off and did a doctorate.

But then something else happened again, so I'm thinking, great, I'm gonna go off, I'm gonna be a psychologist, I was teaching in a university by then, teaching psychology, teaching students, teaching some maths and statistics, which was a bit crazy, 'cause that was never my favourite subject. But then once again, something weird happened and I just felt like God was calling me somewhere else.

And, by then, I was getting married as well and we were moving. And I saw an advert to run a mental health charity. And I thought, well, that sounds really interesting. So I got involved in doing that and I went off and I ran that charity for what turned out to be the next five years of my life, pretty much.

But then once again, there was another surprise, that wasn't where I was destined to end up either. Because as part of doing that, I'd started speaking more and more and teaching people about stuff to do with mental health and what the Bible says and how I understood it and helping them to see a way through whatever difficulties life was throwing. And I started to do some work with a local church. And I'd always struggled with church, I thought it was a bit weird. But increasingly I felt like God was starting to call me into church.

So long story short, that's how I ended up doing what I do now, where I actually work for a church and I love everything to do with church. But it wasn't what I thought I would do in the first place.

So sometimes it may feel like you're on a path and it's not the right path, but I just wanna reassure you that these things have a habit of working themselves out.

You know, there's this passage in the Bible where there's a guy called Paul and he's talking about a really significant moment in his life where he found out what it was that he was destined to do. And that word, destined, it means what was laid out before him. And that's my experience, that when you're following God, you don't always know where the end of the line goes, but all you have to do is follow at the next step. What's laid out for you? What feels obvious in this moment? Where should you be? What should you be doing? And I've never worried too much about the longterm things. And I've always ended up in the right place, even if it wasn't somewhere I ever thought I'd be.


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