Social Workers don’t choose their profession; the profession chooses them.
The above quote is a tidbit I took away from a conference I attended years ago. Conferences are a funny beast. In the midst of all the pertinent information to be learned there tends to be that odd little tidbit that sticks with an audience member.
Considering I never set out to be a social worker this struck a cord with me. I fell into the field. Which isn’t that notable on it’s own, considering many people fall into careers they might not have otherwise chosen. What is notable is that social work isn’t an easy nine to five desk job. It’s demanding. Not to pat myself on the back but I had clients that loved me and I helped people. I take that as proof I was doing something right.
Social work isn’t a fun job. It’s stressful and demanding with little rewards. The rewards we get are a smile. An occasional pat on the back. Oh, and more work.
Make no mistake about it; a social worker is not in their job for the money, because there is not much to be had. The only raises I ever saw were because of it being voted in by the government. And that was only once in ten years. Cost of living increase? How about ten more clients instead.
Yet Social Work is a funny little beast. It seeks out those with a big heart, with a desire to help. It lassos us and ropes us in. Soon we’re stuck in dilemmas of having vacation time to use but not being able to afford time away from the caseload.
I’m reminded of something my grandmother once told me, when she found out I was going into social work: “Wouldn’t you rather do something that pays money?”
The answer: not really. While money is helpful and certainly a motivator for leaving the field, it’s not the only answer. One has to be true to their heart. I always wanted a job I enjoyed. Underneath all the stress, all the pressure, all the poverty, I met a lot of wonderful people. More importantly I helped them. I made their lives better.
Social work chose me. It made me a better person. And maybe, just maybe, a small part of me wouldn’t mind going back.