A common question social workers hear from patients or people we meet that is something along the lines of, “Your job must be really hard. How do you do what you do?” With a comment like that I usually feel a bit bashful and say, “Oh it’s not that bad you just get used to it and remember not to take it home with you.” However, this could be said for many professions, say a lawyer, for instance, they likely get used to arguing and litigation and try to make sure it doesn’t bleed into their personal life. Or I always think being a plumber would be a hard job but I am sure they get used to the smells and the nature of work as long as you know what doesn’t come home with them.
Admittedly, social work is a bit different. Does one ever really get used to suffering? Do humans have the capability to just let it go and not think about it? I don’t know the answer. I think, just maybe, we can go back to difficult situations knowing that sometimes, some days, we make a difference. The carrot for social workers is the actual work. In the work we see people improve, gain insight, change their life, overcome, persevere. Knowing that, we can do our job everyday. One can go back to the suffering knowing there is eventually going to be a better day down the road.
People don’t do social work for power, fame, or obviously money. I believe we do social work to make a difference in the lives of a few people. Our power comes from alleviating emotional pain. Our fame comes from the individual who remembers the help a social worker provided them in a time of need, and it made all the difference. At least that is what I think. What do you think? Why did you decide to become a social worker or why do you do what you do everyday? Is it for power, fame, or money? We would love to know what draws others to this profession and why you choose to serve everyday!