I feel like I don’t deserve to pursue working in mental health due to being ignorant and saying heinous words I should’ve never used in my past. I grew up fairly sheltered. Small Catholic grade/high school with boomer parents. I knew that there were racial slurs that I should never say and never said them. However, I did not know that the R-word was an ableist slur. The way my dad and peers used it around it felt like a cuss word for not being smart. My dad and his brother both had an aunt with Down Syndrome that they loved and they volunteered at Special Olympics and would condemn anyone who insulted people with disabilities, but they still used the r-slur around friends “jokingly”and said that as long as it wasn’t targeted at someone with a condition that it was okay, so I didn’t think much of it. School didn’t treat it much differently than any other bad cuss word. Most of my media consumption didn’t help since my parents fed me 80s and 90s movies and YouTube “comedians” like filthy Frank or Brandon Rogers further made it feel more normalized than it should. Some of my peers that would never say any slurs or hate speech would say it casually or “playfully” so I didn’t look into it. Around the end of freshman year of college 4-5 years ago I found out the connotation and historical context and felt horrid. I should’ve never used that word and I got rid of the word immediately. I further educated myself about ableism and how to be a better ally, but I still feel horrible that me calling a friend that when insulting each other as “jokes” was at the expense of a marginalized community and feel if people knew this about my past they’d think I’m a horrible person, even after the change. The word should never be a joke, even if I didn’t have the connotation of the r word with putting down people with disabilities, it still has that effect and sends the message that they’re “lesser than”, which is horrible. I know people will say that I should’ve known better, which I should have known better. It haunts me to this day, and I know I’ve changed and worked to be a better person and reflected on it, but it doesn’t shake the guilt of ignorance. I’m sincerely sorry and even though now I know better and have gained knowledge since, I’m worried someone might bring it up and use it against me or tarnish my reputation even though it doesn’t accurately reflect who I am now. The fact I even did this makes me feel like I’d never be qualified to go into mental health, no matter how much I changed. What should I do?