People tend to have big reactions when I tell them what I do. “I’m a social worker, in the Bronx.” I inevitably get a look of concern or shock, told that the asker’s job is not nearly so important, and am asked how I do it?
I’ve gotten better at smiling and nodding, or assuring disbelieving conversationalists that I do, in fact, enjoy my job. But no one really buys that. Sure, it’s rewarding, but isn’t my heart just always broken?
Sometimes, sure. I’ve written plenty about that. But this is a time of year when we
eat our weight in potatoes give thanks, so I think I should get this out there.
I love my job. This is why.
I swear. For all the complaining, breast-beating, and oh-what-a-worlding I engage in, my job gives me a lot of joy. And I don’t mean in the sappy “a child’s laughter is all the thanks I need” kind of way. I don’t dread going to work in the morning, like a lot of people I know do. (I used to, back when I did data entry. I could actually see my soul leaking out ears back then.)
Still don’t believe me? I get it. My righteous anger can be a lot to forget. But let me provide some reasons and examples, that I’ve conveniently compiled into bullet points.
- I spent a good portion of this week cutting turkey feathers out of construction paper. I then spent most of Tuesday afternoon corralling sugared up toddlers and tweens and helping them to glue said turkey feathers down, and to decorate the office for Christmas. I know it isn’t everyone’s idea of a delightful afternoon, but it’s pretty damn enjoyable for me.
- Once a week, I mold young minds in my girls’ group. I get to surreptitiously impart my feminist principles, under the guise of having a Beyoncé dance party.
- Occasionally, I have Beyoncé dance parties.
- I have gotten to take teen groups camping, to amusement parks, and ice skating.
- After the Halloween party, I keep the leftover candy the kids didn’t want. Who the hell turns down Rolos?
- I live in a walkable city, and have to do home visits. However rough the job gets, I have a de-stressing walk to look forward to.
- On that camping overnight, I got to lead the way in a high ropes course, in which I realized that thirty feet off the ground is a lot higher than it sounds, and my girls learned some new words.
- I can wear sneakers to work.
- My Spanish improves by leaps and bounds. (Hola.)
- At least twice a week, I am greeted with leg-crushing hugs from young kids, and excited shouts of, “Miss SJ!”
- Girls’ group includes a snack budget.
Then there are the other things I’m grateful for. The things that make my job doable.
- My Droid. OK, so it’s not an iPhone, but still. It has kept me from getting lost and helped me to get information on the go (translation: phone numbers I’ve forgotten to look up) during visits. It has also kept me entertained for simply hours while on delayed trains, or waiting for a delayed conference (email me to compare Fruit Ninja high scores.)
- My iPod. Those walks would not be nearly as calming if I didn’t have the sounds of Amy Winehouse, the Decemberists, Mumford and Sons, or Florence and the Machine to keep me going. On really hard days, I play West Side Story and pretend that I’m doing outreach to the Sharks and the Jets.
- Amy Winehouse, the Decemberists, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, musical theater, Glee…the soundtrack to my days and my walks that reminds me that the world can actually produce some pretty beautiful stuff.
- My supervisor, who laughs at my inappropriate humor, shows me pictures of puppies when I’m feeling bummed, and believes in my abilities much more than I believe in myself.
- My dollar store notebook. Where would I be without that thing? I have no idea, because it has every address I need in it.
- My zip-up imitation suede boots from Target. Professional, yet comfy. Best $25 I ever spent.
- My incredibly, amazingly generous family and friends, who somehow find the time to think of me and my families despite everything else they have to think about first. They’ve come through with donations of kids’ magazines for the waiting room, art and office supplies, and Christmas gifts. Not to mention, they listen to me rant and rave, and rarely tell me to shut it.
- You blog readers out there. I mean, you know.
Of course I’m also grateful for the parents who finally started treating their son’s mental illness, or the mother who is in the process of leaving her abusive boyfriend. But that’s the boring stuff we all expect. So the thing I find myself most grateful for this year is the my secret fun job. The fact that I’m pretty much having a party every day (more or less) and I get credit for saving the world. There are worse ways to make a living.
Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! And happy Thursday, you international folk!