Forty-Two Years as a Social Worker: A Calling or a Career?

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Social Work: My Calling

I'm fairly new into my social work career; meaning I've only graduated and have been practicing for the last 5 years. I remember as a child, a youth, and a young adult I had many negative experiences. Experiences that left me wondering "Why me?" I also remember, in some of my darkest times, telling myself that one day I'll be able to help someone else through times like these. I lived through a lot of my pain on my own. I wasn't allowed to tell anyone what was happening to me; or I felt to afraid to; or, when I finally did reach out, I wasn't believed. I often felt alone. Scared and alone. I never wanted anyone else to feel that way. If they did, I wanted to be able to say to them that I had been through that too and I got out of it alive and relatively sane, and now I want to help others.
Because I didn't have much in the way of supports, I reacted to my life in many negative ways. I turned to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, relationships; basically anything that would take me out of myself and my pain. As my "answers" became part of the problem, I realized that I needed to change my life and eventually I did.
When I work with my clients, I never judge because I too have reacted negatively to my life and my feelings. I too have caused pain because of the pain that I've felt. I have no right to judge; I have no need to judge.
I'm good at what I do. I build strong working relationships with my clients. Although "where" I work may have timelines and deadlines for certain client actions, I remind my clients that their process is the one that matters. I remind them of the all of the steps they've taken, no matter how small those steps might seem. I remind them, above all, that someone cares; someone hears them; someone's listening; and someone gives a $#*!. I try to give to them all of the things I never allowed myself to have; all of the things that I wish I had.
For me, social work is a calling. I know that it is because I don't feel quite as alive as I do when I'm helping someone. I love to spend time with the broken and make them feel whole. It gives my life, my past, present, and future, meaning and purpose.

Karen more than 5 years ago


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