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This is for real.

My job is the most difficult thing I’ve ever loved. There are many aspects of social work which challenge me, but lately the circumstances at work are forcing me to really take a look at myself. In working so closely with individuals coping with complex mental health issues, physical health problems, and extreme financial hardship, I often feel overwhelmed as I try to prioritize each person’s need considering their level of functioning. The more I get to know my clients, the more the pieces of their history help me to work on the puzzle that is their present. And it’s so hard. After all, these are actual, real people. They are not case studies over which I can hypothesize. Although I work my clients live, their world doesn’t freeze when I leave at the end of my work day; their lives were happening long before I got there.

So my challenge is managing the weight of my clients’ reality. The thing is, to look at my clients as individuals compels me to face all the aspects of myself with which I struggle. There is no place in my work for passive communication or laziness. I have to be honest and direct, even if it invokes confrontation. I have trust my instincts and my own knowledge. And I can’t put things off until the next day just because the task at hand feels uncomfortable. Basically, I have to be more responsible and more mature than I even feel capable of.

Every time I make a mistake, I initially feel my stomach drop and a brief sense of panic about my next step. But I can’t avoid my mistakes. That would mean I choose to neglect the men and women who come into my office, and that’s not the sort of person I want to be. As I work to be a better social worker, I think it’s pushing me to be a better person.

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Categories: social work Tags: , ,
  1. jcarpenter001
    February 7, 2013 at 22:41

    I am right there with you.

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