Wednesday, October 04, 2006

what I have been up to since graduation

I apologize to all of you who have been holding your breath for my new blog post. So much has happened to me since graduation that I wanted take enough time to organize all of my thoughts into what could quite possibly be considered the Greatest Blog Post of All Time.

What can I say about life after graduation? First of all, it’s much harder than being in school. I remember sitting in a small, crowded classroom on my first day of grad school and thinking to myself, “This is the real thing. I’m here with the top dogs. I must focus all of my energy into being successful in grad school because this is going to be a struggle.” I thought grad school was going to be difficult because everyone in my undergraduate college was making me believe that grad school would be the hardest thing I would ever do in my life. But it wasn’t. In fact, it was easier than being an undergraduate. The real world is the hard thing.

I keep having this recurring dream where I helpelessly witness the moon rapidly crash into the Earth, immediately destroying the planet and eradicating all of existence. That is how I have been feeling lately – like my world has been quickly changing in ways that I didn’t expect. And the unexpected can be scary. I have unexpectedly been strapped with more responsibilities than I had imagined.

In grad school, the professors and field supervisors are serving you – to cater to your needs as a learner. In the real world, you serve The Man. For example, I knew that a portion of my paycheck would go to the government, but imagine my surprise when I realized that more than $400 of each paycheck completely disappeared into the bottomless pit of taxes. That means that I actually make about $10,000 a year less than the salary that was originally offered to me. It was disenchanting because it makes living on my own much harder than I had previously anticipated. I realized that I am not really living to support myself, but also to support The Man.

In the real world, you also serve your clients, and that is a TREMENDOUS responsibility. You have to constantly remind yourself to remain accountable for everything you do – or fail to do – for them because you may hold futures of each of your clients in your hands. For example, if you fail to file a child abuse report or fail to call the Emergency Response Team when you should, someone could potentially die. Your inaction or action can dramatically change the course of the lives of your clients in enduring ways.

Another negative aspect of the real world is that you just can’t take a day off on a whim like you did in school. There are so many people depending on you at work that you just can’t leave work as you please. There are people who are so desperate for help that their last shred of hope left is to see you for assistance. As a result, you have an ethical obligation to be at work EVERY DAY. And that often restricts you – not to mention burns you out.

In the real world, people don’t constantly praise you like they did while you were a student. In the real world, it doesn’t work like that. Some clients will curse at you, call you horrible names, and yell at you to your face. Some will not say anything at all. Oftentimes you may be left wondering whether you even made a positive difference in anyone’s life.

However, it only takes one person who expresses their gratitude to you to show that perhaps you are making a difference – even though you or the client may not be aware of it. There are not many jobs that enable you to impact the lives of people on a daily basis. I can help alleviate someone’s poverty, save someone from suicide, assuage someone’s depression, and advocate for political change all in one day. I am confident in saying that I leave work everyday knowing that I did make a difference, regardless of how minute it may have been. That’s why being in the real world isn’t entirely horrible for me.

Responsibility is an inherent component of freedom and growth. Sure, the real world is tough, but it has granted me greater independence, enabling me to grow in more ways than I ever could have merely going to school. The lessons I learn in my work have allowed me to become a better person all around.

Although being in the real world is tough, being in MY real world is much easier than being in the real world of many of my clients. A large majority of my paycheck goes to taxes, but I am not wondering whether or not I will have enough money to eat tomorrow like many of my clients do. It is hard for me to take a day off, but taking a day off isn’t going to make me homeless like it may for many of my clients. People may not always praise me for my work, but the work I do is satisfying and not grueling and thankless as the jobs that many my clients do. Consequently, I feel privileged that I can help my clients in every way I possibly can because they deserve somebody to serve them...for at least once in their lives.

As things keep changing in my life, I am thankful for those who have been my supporters along the way (you know who you are). I love you all. Thank you for taking the time to remain updated on my life.


At 6:43 AM, Blogger John said...

I don't think there's anywhere in the world where you'll pay a large majority of your gross income in taxes... Maybe you should find out what's happening!

At 5:21 PM, Blogger MissLinda said...

Thanks, John, for your concern. I did find it weird, but I spoke to Payroll and to a few of my friends, and they said that it was normal. You can even look it up online. I live in California, so it may be different here than it is where you live.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Social Workers said...

For Social Workers.


At 5:23 PM, Blogger sowk said...

So glad to find a blog from someone who is not negitive about social work. Maybe I was searching with the incorrect words but all I found before your site were social work haters. I'll be checking in
Thanks! :)

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Phil said...

Your points are well taken. As a final year MSW student I can agree that graduate school is far too insular compared to the realities to be faced after graduation. Fortunately I've already had some work experience to accentuate the lessons I learn in class. In many ways, the best lessons I've learned have been from clients I have worked with. And when I enter a career with an MSW in hand the greatest lessons will come, yet again, from those I serve.

Anyway, its nice to see there are "zealous" social workers still around :)

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous supervisor to the supervisor said...

Interesting, I try to give our staff support with the disgruntled clients by taking my turn at the phone. My comment to those who really upset us all, is: "I am sorry you are so frustrated, I will remember you in my prayers, then I hang up"

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Vizhen said...

interesting blog. i received my MSSW this past May and am working as a researcher for the state. My degree concentration was management and community development. I have not yet had the opportunity to work face to face with clients, but i have definitely heard the horror and uplifting stories. as a clinician, i'm sure you have found a little peace of sanctity in each day. continue to keep your head up and your positive attitude. social work is a field you only go to grad school for if you truly have a passion and destiny designed for it.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taxes don't do to the "man" they help support the client.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

how do u follow your blog?


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