Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I Love My Job

So no one confuses any of my rantings & ravings about job frustrations and unhappiness I want to clarify that I do love my job. It's just that this is my blog and sometimes is my outlet for my frustrations & last week had a lot more frustrations than normal.

I am a Mental Health Therapist and I work with a population of adolescents that need the most services within the school system. They are great kids, but most people don't realize that because they can't get past the baggy pants, the black clothes, the body piercings, or the gang writings. Deep down, they are all still kids that want to be loved and need some attention. It is amazing how much you can help a kid just by taking a couple of minutes to ask them how they are doing.

Today I had this kid that was very upset and the f-en-heimer was flying and I just asked him to step out of the room to talk with me for a while, while other staff keep the classroom going on their discussion. I could physically see this kid calm himself. He just wanted someone to care enough to ask what was bothering him and actually listen to him.

The kids I work with know that I will let them know if I am disappointed in a decision they have made, but they are not going to get yelled at -- and that makes a HUGE difference to these kids. They have gotten yelled at so much in their lifetime that they just can't take anymore yelling and just completly check out when someone raises their voices.

People often ask if it is frustrating working with these kids because they don't believe that they really care about the staff, or they believe that I don't see any rewards and they show the least amount of progress. Well, let me say this - my job would be very boring and I would not like it as much if I my kids were getting all A's & B's and were never in the principal's office and had perfect families. Actually - there might not be the need for me and I would be out of a job, but that is not to say that those kids that fit those descriptions don't have issues - they do, I know they do. I do see change and get rewards from working with these kids. And sometimes these rewards are even sweeter when you are working with the most troubled kid.

I see these kids coming to our room when they are kicked out of other classrooms, asking to talk to us when their frustration is so high that they know they just can't make it at school that day, trusting us to tell us secrets they just can't tell anyone else, and still coming daily to check in with us even though they don't need our services anymore just because they feel welcome and our room is the place where they belong in a pretty big high school. So - don't tell me that I don't see rewards.

I am now in a position that I can see some of these kids I have been working with the last couple of years work through high school and graduate. Some of these kids it will be a very long bumpy road to get them there and that will make it even more of a joyous occasion when they graduate.

I don't like my job every day, but I do love it. I know not everyone can do my job. And I can't do everyone else's job. I think people spend their whole lives trying to figure out the meaning of their life. I am not sure what the meaning for your life is, but I believe that right now my life has meaning because I am needed by these kids. The gifts I was blessed with is what I have to offer. I still joke that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. It's no joke though. I am young and I still have many years of "growing up" to do. I don't know what the future holds for me - none of us do. Someday I would like it to include motherhood, but that time is not right now. I am not sure which direction I would like to take my career in the future, but I like to keep exploring what my options are so that when I am ready for a change I can make an educated decision.

I do believe that their is a higher power that has given me a direction that my life should take. I choose to believe that sometimes decisions are made for us that we might not understand at the time, but through time we will become wiser as to what that path is. I also choose to do things in life that I enjoy. We are here for too short a time to be miserable, which is why I will not work as an evening janitor (did that for 3 weeks in college) or as a cook in a restaurant (did for 2 years in high school) or ever work in construction (never did this and have no desire to). I liked cooking at a restaurant when I was in school, but that is not something I would enjoy now. I did not enojy working evenings and working alone as a janitor was - just, well - lonely. For other people, these jobs may be what they enjoy and they might not like listening to people's problems.

I try to apply my desire to do things that I enjoy to all areas of my life. I refuse to let myself be convinced or bullied into volunteering or joining a club for something I don't have time for or are interested in. If I don't feel like going out, I generally don't - although there are times I don't but my desire to hang with that person is greater than my desire to just sit around. (If that makes sense.)

So - I chose my job (turned it down the first time it was offered to me, as I was not in that place at that time), I choose to enjoy my job, and I choose to be happy. And if I choose to be unhappy - then, dammit - let me be unhappy - but right now I still love my job.


Cattiva said...

What a terrific post!! Loving what you do is so important. And you are doing such a service for these kids. FOr some of them, you might be the only positive voice they hear. My middle-school age son tells me some horror stories he hears from friends about their families and I cringe sometimes.

Cudos to you for making a difference in the lives of kids who really need you!! You may never know how much of an impact you have had on some of them.

wontonfoey said...

I hope that my nephew finds someone like you in his life (and soon!)...he is about to go through a battery of tests to determine just where personality meets learning disablity and physical handicap. He has that tough, bumpy road...

I hope that all the budget cutbacks don't elimentate people in you position...it seems in my uber-liberal mind, that we need ten-times more of you in our schools, not fewer...

I've lived with child-free teachers and know how thankless that job can be and how the administrators are often not very helpful. Thanks for giving it your all.