Home > Life, Uncategorized > Love, hate, and ambition.

Love, hate, and ambition.

I have been watching a boatload of Grey’s Anatomy. I even kept watching the series after Cristina Yang’s character left, which I never imagined I’d do. However, it’s too late now. I’m stuck watching it until the very end. Since last week, I’ve watched at least two episodes when I get home at night.

I don’t even, like, love Grey’s Anatomy. Medical dramas are fine, but they are not my favorite. On Tuesday, I got out of bed at 4:55 AM to go lift at the gym so I could arrive at work by 7:40 AM. I worked until about 5:30 PM and then rode my bike from West Philly to South Philly to observe a support group for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. This is a part of the process so I can obtain facilitator certification to help out with my agency’s own support group. Then I went to judo until 8:30 PM. I got home around 9:00 PM. After showering and preparing some food, I pulled up Netflix in my internet browser and settled into Grey’s Anatomy. It was probably around 9:30 PM then and I knew I had to be up at 5:00 AM again the next day. This is when I asked myself why the heck I was watching this show when I should be winding down instead.

The reason I developed a nightly Grey’s Anatomy habit is not complex. After about 15 seconds, I realized I was watching this series is because it reminds me of my own work in the social work field. The portrayal of surgeons at a teaching hospital on Grey’s Anatomy shows individuals propelled by ambition, intellectual curiosity, and often great empathy and compassion for humanity. The work cultivates an intangible sense of reward while making each of the characters miserable and suffocated by stress. But they’re happy. But they’re miserable. But they love what they do. But their work is destroying them. But their work is what keeps them going. But their work is killing their relationships. But their work is unique and incredible.

This is what I go through. I hate talking about my job. Please don’t ask me about work after work. Please. Don’t. But I love my job. I love being a social worker. For the past year and a half, I’ve been a social worker for a community-based geriatric health program. Just recently, I was promoted to department supervisor. We are housed by a university nursing program, so education and research is highly emphasized. My knowledge of geriatrics, dementia, family systems, the health care system, and social welfare has grown so much. I’ve accessed valuable professional development opportunities. I’ve been of part of  selfless teamwork. My co-workers and I have pulled together, exhausted all resources and problem-solving skills as the clock was ticking in order to makes things safe and good for our clients–before, during, and after working hours. I’ve had meaningful relationships with my clients and their families that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. We’ve exchanged hugs and warm smiles as we passed each other in the halls. We’ve held each other’s hand. It’s been indescribable.

However, I’ve also felt so drowned by pressure to resolve multiple urgent issues that I’ve broke down and cried in dark, locked bathroom, choking to breathe. I’ve stopped 100 feet before the entrance to our building and wondered if I could make it through the day. Alternately, after spending several hours extinguishing emergent crises, I’ve wondered what would happen if I walked out the door and didn’t come back. I’ve had nights where my stomach is churning, my heart is racing, my eyes are wide open, and I don’t know how I’ll fix the mistake I made the day before. What is the answer? What is the answer? What do I have to do to fix this? 

I’m not happy. But I’m happy. I’m scared. But I’m unstoppable. I can’t do this. I can do anything. I should find something less stressful. But I would be so bored. It’s too hard. So what if it’s hard? I will be excellent. This is what I love. This is what I hate. I’m not this job. But I’m better because of this work.

Most of the characters on Grey’s Anatomy end their medical careers because Shonda Rhimes kills them off. So what would happen for me to leave social work? What would compel me to leave the stress and adrenaline behind? Only death? I don’t know. I do know that I love my work. I know that I’ll figure out. It’s OK that’s it’s hard. It’s a part of who I am. Like Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll probably see social work through to until the end.


  1. March 5, 2016 at 16:20

    They are so fortunate to have you. That third paragraph is wonderful. You apparently thrive on challenge, as in the judo. ~ Your Cuz

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