Thursday, September 06, 2012

My Answer to Your Question Would Be...

What do you enjoy doing? What would be your ideal job? Do you want to continue with social work?

These are the questions that haunt me. Even with all of the soul-searching and journaling and praying and counseling I really feel as clueless as ever. I seriously don't know what I enjoy doing. I used to think that it was "helping people" but that cotton candy cloud of abstract idealism revolts me now. I thought that being in the helping arena would soothe my sorrows because at least I would be contributing to the well-being of my fellow man but it's left me more discouraged and disheartened than ever. 

You know what sucks? Admitting defeat. I'm confused nowadays because I'm not sure whether I should just totally walk away from the social work thing or try and reframe my approach to it (i.e. think of myself less as a savior of the wretched masses). I know that social work seems like a good fit because I'm a compassionate person and I genuinely care. At the same time, it's this same deep compassion that makes me consumed with rage and anger when the people I care about are wronged. 

Let's explore the notion of vengeance. Think about superheroes--they protect vulnerable people from, like, aliens and shit. You know, big whoop. Then they have a big showdown with some nefarious criminal mastermind and duke it out until the bad guy just happens to fall off a cliff/get run over by a train/destroyed by his own weapons/take your pick. Endings to stories like these are satisfying because the cause of evil (bad guy) has been removed--may the world rejoice and good riddance!

Well, this leads me to talk about how deeply unsatisfying it is to be in social work. First of all, I don't get to carry out revenge. So, right off the bat I have to accept that I will never get to indulge my vigilantist compulsions. It's not plausible nor ethical to do so, according to my beliefs. "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:9). So basically, I have to wait until "closing time" (i.e. the final judgment of the world) for perpetrators to get what they deserve. In the meantime, the world is not going to be "made right" from the "top down"--you can't force people to be decent to each other, that's just another form of tyranny and oppression. And you can't "make it right" by just killing all of the evil people, either. Oh, ho ho. All this to say that this whole life, this whole world is going to be a mixed bag of good and evil until the day we die. See The Parable of the Weeds.

Another thing that's frustrating about social work is that you're always fighting on (what seems to be) the losing side. Right? I mean, life has not been kind to this unemployed, Latino, gay, HIV-positive, chemically dependent, clinically depressed man with a history of sexual abuse (this is literally a case I saw in a community mental health clinic). Wow, like, I want to stand in solidarity with these beaten-down underdog people but seriously, they are always #losing. For these peeps, small victories mean getting a freaking week's worth of diapers or some milk through WIC. Sometimes I just think "damn." There are so many barriers and so many things going against them. It's like, man, there's no way in hell that this is going to turn around. And yet these are the "cases" a person in social work sees day after day after day. I mean, this is plenty enough to drive anyone crazy. 

So what would it take to get me back into social work? It's been a couple of years since I've had an actually positive experience (Hogar de los Angeles in Mexico). To be perfectly honest, you'd have to drag me kicking and screaming back into the arena...

into the realm of the silent victims.

I got that phrase a couple of months ago and was like, "Oooh, that just gives me shivers." 

Not gonna lie, it is fking DARK working with the oppressed. Like, I have witnessed some serious evil. Like a ball of dread and overwhelm and hopelessness. Like, OMG this is going to swallow me whole if I don't get my shit together.

The answer, then? I will take the plunge back into social work IF AND ONLY IF it's Jesus Christ himself that invites me, and even then I'd seriously have fears, doubts and reservations. So ya, that's where I'm at.

1 comment:

  1. first of all, props for the GIIIIIIF. such an appropriate choice, too.

    blah, life decisions. alright. i guess my take on it is that there is plenty to do that is helpful without being right in the thick of emotional turmoil. and it sounds like you're getting some pretty strong signals that this isn't the right path for you. thankfully, bachelors degrees give people a great foundation for lots of different paths, no matter what their focus was.

    there are so many ways to bring good into the world. and knowing what you don't like doing is at least a start.

    let's both work toward finding that place that isn't killing us inside and also lets us feel like we're fulfilling our need to be providing a service to humanity. ;)

    STRIFE, man.