They say that we go through three stages in life, first we are babies and rely on our parents/ guardians to do everything from change our pampers to making sure that we eat. Then eventually we become adults and are self- sufficient and able to do things on our own. The final stage is when we are elderly but in essence, we revert back to that baby stage where we are depending on someone else to care for us because old age has not allowed us to remain independent.
Unfortunately in the society we live in today, we are not able to take a leave of absence for extended periods of time to care for our elderly loved ones. We must resort to nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and things of that nature that consist of strangers and paid professionals providing food, administering medications, dressing, and watching over the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families.
Shortly after graduate school, I was presented with an opportunity to work as a social worker in a skilled nursing facility. One of the social workers was out on maternity leave and I went into the position knowing that once she returned, she would take over her caseload. Though it would only be a short period of time, after doing some research, I knew that the professional experience would be invaluable to my career. It was important to me to gain some post graduate experience.
I contemplated on this post for a while, mainly because the things I witnessed were horrific. Some of the tasks we were asked to carry out were deceitful, inhumane and for a lack of a better word, wrong. When I went to work, I did not feel like I was having a positive impact on the residents there. It was unusual because normally when you enter into a new job, you want to do what is asked of you because you are new and assume that the people in charge know what they are doing. A major key that I took with me was to question EVERYTHING when you get that feeling that something is not right. Simply because someone is in a managerial position, does not mean that they have your best interest at heart.
Though this was one of my worst professional experiences, I definitely learned a lot about myself in this position. My morals and values were tested on a regular basis. I learned how to not only be an advocate for my clients, but also to advocate for myself. I learned how to tell someone who signs my pay checks that I am not willing to do something because it compromises what I believe to be right regardless of the consequences that may come thereafter. I learned that in the field of providing services to people, not everyone thinks the way you think or cares the way you care and while that is okay, it was not okay with me.
I say all of this to say, regardless of the income you’re bringing in and even how the position may reflect on your resume, remain true to you. Never put what has been instilled in you on the back burner to conform to pressures around you whether that is in the workplace, at home, church, school, anywhere. I am truly grateful for that experience because without it, I would not have known that I actually enjoy working with the elderly and they are such a sweet and funny group of people to work with at times. I also would not have known my limits and the things I was willing to tolerate.
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