Where Should I Begin?


If all goes according to plan I will soon graduate as a counsellor. To promote myself, and to make a habit out of writing regularly, I have decided to start this blog. Writing is important for me as a means of expression and self-reflection, and throughout my counselling training I have been writing a journal and practising creative writing techniques. But who wants to read a blog by a freshly trained therapist? Perhaps some kind friends or colleagues, perhaps other counsellors may get lost and stumble across it, but ultimately I don’t really know. I began this post with the claim that I will soon graduate as a counsellor, but how do I know that for sure? My results are not out yet, so perhaps I will need to resubmit some assignments before I can remove my armbands and dive into the pool of trained counsellors. I am hopeful, but uncertain.

My counselling course was an eye-opening experience, and was grounded in existentialism and phenomenology. A main theme in existentialism is uncertainty – it is something everybody must live with. We have no idea what’s going to happen so we fill our lives with the illusion of certainty, perhaps through routine, writing meetings with friends in our calendars, or noting what time the plumber is coming round on Thursday to fix the boiler. But what if the plumber woke up on Thursday morning and realised that the main reason they became a plumber was to focus on something they could fix, to cover up the fact that they could not fix what mattered most to them – their parents broken relationship. So, they have an existential crisis and my boiler remains broken. What then?

I was partly inspired into starting a blog by an episode of the podcast ‘This American Life’ called Things I Mean to Know. In the first part of the episode the producer has a realisation of just how much she takes for granted (e.g. that the world orbits the sun, and not the other way around). She begins a blog with the intention of getting to know more about the things she does not know, but (spoiler) gives up after one blog post. Perhaps I will do the same. After all, the main theme of this whole blog is uncertainty, hence the title. Will I continue to churn out more content for you to consume? Or will I be struck down with a terrible illness? Perhaps I’ll get bored. Or the internet will become irrelevant after the forthcoming spider-zombie apocalypse. Or maybe I won’t find the time for blogging. Or I’ll fail my course. Or I’ll fall into a hole and get trapped there, and survive by eating worms and collecting rain water. I don’t know!

P.S. If you’re interested in existentialism and phenomenology a good place to start is Melvin Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ programme on BBC Radio 4.