Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early retirement

Today I had one of those days that makes you wonder why you do what you do. The funny thing it wasn't what I was doing that made me wonder, it was the 'business' that goes along with it.

I briefly contemplated early retirement, then reminded myself to be careful what I wish for. I then took a few minutes to miss being self employed answering really only to myself. Of course this too has it's own set of challenges.

Recently I've noticed the great divide between many in management positions (I'm assuming in general) and those who spend their time primarily doing frontline work.

Days like today make me have to use every fiber of my being not to shout out in the middle of the office 'Seriously? Can you not read?' as I gazed at my highlighted, scribbled on mileage form that was placed back into my mailbox. It apparently had not held the all of the info that it was supposed to.

I was unusually frustrated at the dozen little notes written to me with obvious confusion and frustration on the judges part. Enough I nearly cried. Luckily I reminded myself that I was tired as it was my final day of work in my week and I had just finished an overnight a few hours prior.

I did not respond out loud as I did in my head ... this time. I instead bubbled and boiled to myself as I gazed over my sheet. From what I know it got approved ('this time').

I'm not sure why this incident bothered me so much. I'm not sure if it's because I have had my limit of encounters with management obsessing over crossed t's and dotted i's in select circumstances while seemingly missing the entire meaning behind what the i's and t's are spelling out in others. Or the fact that I wonder if they have indeed forgotten what all we do as support workers.

Whatever it is I am beginning to wonder how long I will be able to passionately embrace this field. It is so incredibly draining on so many levels.

There's the physical level of lifting, wiping, washing, sometimes hitting, hair pulling, along with the regular go, go , go schedule.

There's the emotional level of relating, empathizing, advocating, communicating, understanding, being patient, genuinely caring, and constantly drawing on energy from deep within to help you get through a stubborn situation of someone who really seems to be in another place.

The intellectual level of problem solving, being creative, teaching, understanding the flawed system of government and formal supports to make your way around, and dealing with the all important mileage sheets (that give you a tenth of a centimeter to write a novels worth of information in - yeah I'm still ticked off about that).

I was complaining to Wally tonight about how I worked so many hours. He asked how many. I said 'between 35-45 a week'. He replied 'You're working normal hours that everyone works!'

By no means do I think my job is the hardest in the world, or the most difficult, nor does it take the most brain power.

I do think that the best support workers limit their time doing frontline support work - for the good of all. By no means am I saying those that only work 35 hrs and under are the best at their job, just that to be the best you have to carefully and thoughtfully take care of yourself and recognize what's best for all involved.

I have quickly learned that there is very little money to be earned in human services really. And we get caught in the whirlwind of needing to survive that balloons into feeling entitled to the things we want. and why wouldn't we? Anyone that works hard deserves to enjoy the benefits of their labour. Unfortunately if you are a single and living on your own in this field this leaves you busting your butt day and night and getting over worked and under valued.

As I was driving home from a shift tonight I was thinking about how I really no longer desire to trade in my happiness and joy for a few more dollars. I briefly remembered how lucky I am to have a partner with a job to help pay the bills. Then I thought to myself 'What would I do without him?'

Monetarily speaking .... I knew the answer right away. I would own little and love it. I would not kill myself to own a house, or have a big apartment. In fact I would likely be living in an old couples' basement or sharing an apartment with some sketchy roommate. Who knows really? I just know that I have come to value my joy above my stuff and don't think I could go back. It's so not worth it.

I love the essence of my job.

I'm not fond of the neighborhood and the company the essence keeps. (Or should I say the company that surrounds the essence).

For now I will do my best to reign in my thoughts from coming out of my mouth often enough so that the higher ups aren't constantly considering coming down on me. And continue to look for ways to find a smile, a laugh and the joy in the time I spend with the people I support.

I'm in this field for a reason right now and while I'm here I might as well enjoy the scenery and learn everything I can because soon enough life changes and you miss what you once had.

(No I have no plans on another job anytime soon, however the best plans are thwarted often in a great story).