My name is Kyle Edquist, and “the Walking Hug” is a nickname I am quite fond of, gifted by my friend Rajkumari. Currently, I live in San Francisco and work as a Leadership Recruiter for a connection company (staffing agency) where I find the best ‘people people’ who will rocket ship the startup space we operate in.
Since having left the direct service, mental health field, the question: “what’s my why” has become part of my everyday life. This blog/article/combo of words will highlight some growth I have had since my beginnings in the field.
At age 17 (12th grade), I walked door to door by a 5-mile radius from my parents’ home visiting all the psychology offices to see if anyone would take me on as an intern. I did so without a full understanding of ‘my why’ but did have an innate wanting to help people. My first counselor opportunity came as a mentor working with a 9-year old child diagnosed Bi-Polar disorder (rare to be so young), that would eventually shift into Conduct disorder. During those 9 months, I very quickly become a resource and support with a listening ear for his Mom who could not afford her own services. At that time, I had found ‘my why,’ it was to help people because it felt good to do so, and, seemed like the right things to do. All of that is great, and, I never really understood at what cost this type of work had on my own connection with self. Much of the meaning in my life over the next 8 years in the helping field was based with a foundation on the other.
During my time wearing the colorful hat of counselor, as seen in private, non-profit, government, residential, suicide/warm lines etc. I never really took my work home with me, and, I was really good at what I did. Looking back, I think I developed the counselor skill set for 2 main reasons:
Right around the age of 8, I took on the role of parent to my parents; and, this included the listening ear, open-ended questions that is core to a counselor. When my parents would argue, I understood that “something was not right” and so I needed to create a solution. Thus, I had been a practicing counselor in my own pre-teen mind before I knew what it was.
Eventually, this inappropriate adulting would lead to conflict, disconnect, arguments and a lot of pain amongst my parents and me.
Starting in grade school (Kindergarten to be precise) and extending over the next 6 years, I experienced bullying. While not being much of a ‘fighter’ at the time, I did get really good at making everyone like me (teachers included). I was silly, well behaved, and inclusive to another degree (inviting those same people who did hurtful things to things like my birthday). As a result, as an adult I was exceptional at building rapport and relationships.
Eventually, this ‘making everyone like me’ behavior would lead to self-disconnect, volatility in my professional experiences, and a lot of unhealthy boundaries between my own identity and the identity I perceived from others around me.
Transitioning these words to the present day, I still struggle with these 2 ‘why’ experiences (parent to my parents + making people like me) even though I am not in the direct service field. I often base my work success purely off of other’s validations, I have a root experience of needing to be friends with everyone or else I don’t feel safe. However, I know now that I am consciously bringing light to exploring my other options in the ‘why’ for my life.
If you’ve made it through these word combo rambles above, the core message I want to leave you with:
“Explore your ‘why’ with an unstoppable, compassionate, playful curiosity using different modalities and always vulnerable/authentic communication.”
For the longest time, I had thought my ‘why’ was to help others; when in reality I had difficulty helping myself and so being of resource to others was all I knew. Today, I am re-learning how to balance the powerful community piece of helping others, with that of an authentic exploration of connecting deeper with myself.