Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
...when I tell them I'm majoring in social work. You'd have thought I told them: "I expect to single-handedly alter the course of history."
The conversation with any "adult" has become painfully predictable.
"What are you majoring in?" They ask, hoping I'll say "education" or maybe "business," possibly even "political science."
"Social work," I say with a smile.
And then it starts. It always does. "Oh," they muse, trying to figure out where to direct the conversation next. "That certainly is a...unique...calling, isn't it?" Unique as in, different? Or bad?
I smile politely, trying to bear with them. "Mmhmm."
"You know, the burn-out rate is really high. Most people leave the profession within five years."
Yes, you know, I've heard that from the thousand other people before you who inquired about my major.
"I suppose," I venture. "But I think the burn-out rate in any job has the potential to be high. You have to find something you enjoy getting up for in the morning."
"But you can't possibly help everyone."
Uhhh...DUH. And here is where I bite my tongue. Here is where I've learned not to argue. Not to point out that if we all believed we couldn't make a difference, we'd sit around idly all day wondering what to do with ourselves. It's where I would point out that a single smile, as cliche as it sounds, can bring someone back from the edge. It's where I would launch into my mantra about why I want to be a social worker, about the guy who was throwing star fish back into the ocean, one by one, on a beach with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of star fish. And another man came along and told him he couldn't possibly make a difference.
And you know what the first man did? He picked up yet another stranded star fish that would suffocate if not thrown back into the ocean, smiled and said, "Made a difference to that one."
Everyone has a unique calling, just for them, a passion, of sorts. And you know what? If you pour your heart into what you do, it might be taxing. But I think that's more of a reflection of the passion of the person than the profession.