Social Work is Me
It took four years of me exploring new cities and various jobs after college to realize what I wanted to do for a career. The idea struck me in a “light bulb moment” (or “ladybug moment” as I like to say) one morning while riding the Chicago “L” train to work. The years of confusion over what I would do when I grew up suddenly appeared as if someone opened my head and dropped the answer inside. I would go back to school to become a social worker.
I did not know much about social work before this moment, but something about the idea just seemed to fit. I needed to learn more about it.
Once I began researching the field, I came across countless articles that described social work as a “calling.” I read about the various job opportunities, but also of the recurring statements explaining that only certain people are cut out to be social workers. Those who are, the articles would say, seem drawn to social work almost instinctively…as if they were put on earth specifically to help others.
We all have moments when long-awaited answers become suddenly clear. In my moments of reading about this helping field, my brain clouds parted and the world seemed to instantly make sense. I had no doubts or questions about it. I would find a way to be a social worker.
One year later, I am almost four weeks into my first semester of graduate school. I have listened to my professors talk about their experiences in the field and the opportunities my classmates and I have to look forward to. The discussions have not only reaffirmed my decision, but also been a refreshing change of pace from the previous jobs I have had little interest in moving forward with.
What hit me most, though, was my introduction to the social work Code of Ethics. While reading this 16-page Code, I realized I not only belong in this field. Social work is who I am. Social work is me.
I read statements like the ones below:
“Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change.”
“Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.”
These responsibilities in the Code of Ethics gave me a sense of pride in what I am working toward. This list does not look like any other set of rules to me. I believe in the principles. I already act on them in everyday life. These words that list my future mission describe what my mission has already been. They are ethical principles that describe me.
Too few of us take the time or energy to pursue our life passions. We become stuck in jobs we’re too comfortable in, worry about debt from college loans or fear change itself. Some of us, I believe, never even discover our true passions…or we discover them at inconvenient times in life, when pursuing dreams seems near impossible.
To this, I would say, go out and find those passions. Live by ladybugs.
I am full of life passions, and I incorporate many of them into my life regularly. They include chocolate, travel, guacamole, writing, animals, photography and people. To say I found a career passion, however, is something of which I feel both fortunate and proud. My list of passions has never included a particular career, but it now includes social work. I will be able to live this passion not only as a hobby, but for an occupation.
My classmates and I are now social workers in training. We are working toward one primary goal: to help people in need and address social problems. Those who share this same “calling” as me need to be social workers almost as much as the world needs social work. We are on our way to making changes. And that is a proud and refreshing feeling.