It’s a common debate:
the validity of Zefron and Vanessa Hudgens’ relationship what’s the best way to stay sane in this job? Everyone has their own take on how to best unwind, decompress, let loose, whatever you want to call it. What we all seem to be able to agree on is that we need to figure out a way to leave the job at the office.
Let’s all hop in the Wayback Machine (take it away, Mr. Peabody!) and head back to
Shoot The Freak social work school.
In some class, I can’t remember which one (for those of you currently there, I assure you, they all run together as soon as you’re out the door) we had a discussion about this very topic. How do we prevent burnout? How do you see what you see, day after day, and come home and just be you?
Lots of suggestions were thrown out. “Exercise.” “Don’t work too much overtime.” “Don’t type notes at home.” None of them struck me as something anyone would really take issue with.
Apparently I forgot where I was.
“Don’t social work your friends.”
This was offered by one of the few people I considered an actual friend and hoped to remain in touch with after
boot camp social work school. “Social working” one’s friends or family is a commonly used term. It’s when you can’t shut off that bleed between work and home. When your friend is crying to you about her failed relationship, you might want to lead her in an exercise to identify her strengths as a person, and what characteristics define a good relationship. When your cousin is complaining about his mother (author’s note: this has never happened in my family) your first instinct may be to explore family subsets and boundaries.
Resist at all costs. At least that’s what I say.
Another girl, decidedly, disagreed. Of course.
This girl was a nice person. We hung out occasionally. We had worked on group projects and had tons of classes together. But, to be DSM-IV technical, I thought she was a bit of a wackadoodle.
“People always say that, ‘don’t social work your friends,’ but isn’t ‘social worker’ a part of our identities now? We can’t shut off our education, or the things we’ve learned about human relationships. Isn’t that a good thing to bring into our own interactions?”
Sure. It can be. Everything you learn, and all of your experiences, impact who you are as a person and how you relate to others. But it’s a question of being ‘on’ all the time. When my one of my younger cousins is dating an idiot or going through a tough break up, my social work education and experience tells me that bashing the guy is not the most productive course of action to take.
But the guy in question is a little shit, and that’s my baby cousin. So bash I will. I wouldn’t tell a client that, based on her boyfriend’s Facebook page, he seems to be an immature jackass who doesn’t deserve her. (Again, this is hypothetical.) Because I have professional boundaries, and am trying to help people find the answers for themselves.
This wasn’t enough of an explanation for my classmate, though.
“I think social worker is an integral part of my identity. I think that will really help me in dealing with people, whether it’s at work, or at home, you know, with family, or a lover, or friend.”
Who says lover? Is it 80s flashback day? Honestly.
We all went back and forth for a while, wasting most of our class time away on a non issue.
“I get what you’re saying, but I think you can stay yourself, and maintain your social work knowledge while relating to your friends and family in the same way.”
“Yeah, my previous education and work influence how I deal with people, but I still leave work at work.
“I don’t think social work school fundamentally changes who you are, as a friend or family member.”
“But I think social work school makes me a better sister, friend, lover, whatever.”
“Oh my God, stop saying lover! Aren’t we supposed to be learning about psychopathology?!”
Guess who that last one was?
I went into
High School Musical social work because I cared about people, loved kids, and believed that marginalized people need a voice. I learned a lot, certainly. And that’s probably affected how I understand and relate to some people in my life. But overall? I’m still me. The things about me that now scream ‘social worker’ were, in many instances, there before I ever went to Rocky Horror social worker school.
I was a sarcastic little shit before getting into this profession. And now? Well, I think you know where I’m going with this.