One thing about being a therapist is that I get to meet people from different walks of life and backgrounds. While everyone comes to see me for different reasons, sometimes I hear similar sentiments echoed my multiple people. I’ve met with a lot of people who are stressed out because of their adult children who are living in their home. Many times these are devoted parents who have attempted many times to help but they are at their wits end because they truly believe that their adult children in their 20s, 30s and 40s never intend to leave. As expected, there’s often a lot of clashing as the adult kids want to be respected and do what they want to do while the parents feel inconvenienced and many times feel obligated to make some sort of rules or give a move out date. Some of this is truly due to the economy as it can be harder to get a good paying job and the cost of housing continues to rise. Sometimes people have no other choice than to move in with family and save money. But there’s another group that doesn’t see the need to move out because it’s comfortable. In these situations the adult child usually refuses to get a job and the parent feels helpless because they don’t want their child to be homeless. In the cycle of life there’s a time ideally where the parent and the child switch roles as being the caregiver for each other. I’ve met many parents who desperately need help from their children but the switch has never been made and instead they are giving all their resources and money to their children who aren’t appreciative and it’s at the parents’ detriment. However the parents refuse to do anything because it’s their children and they feel obligated to care for their (adult) able-bodied children for as long as they are alive. The endless cycle continues because neither adult child or parent wants to make a different or a difficult decision. It’s definitely a phenomenon that I would love to do more research on at some point.
A few days ago I shared an article on social media about the ways the social work is failing. While it was very thought provoking, the author also talked about ways to remedy the problem. As someone who has worked in the field for almost 7 years, the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a social worker can be quite comical. Unfortunately there’s still a prevalent belief that all social workers do is take kids away from their parents. Social work is one of the only professions I know where you can have a masters degree, two years of supervised experience, a clinical license AND make $17 an hour. That number isn’t arbitrary. It’s actually what I made when I first relocated to my original state of residence. The fact is that we are often overworked and not fairly compensated for our services. Burnout rates are at an all time high because we can’t even afford to take time off and it’s sometimes a struggle to pay bills and make student loan payments out of the pittance we’re given. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a decent living as a social worker but it will probably entail working more than one job, working in an administrative capacity, or being an entrepreneur of sorts. With mental illness continuing to be a growing concern, I wish that the growing demand for mental health providers like social workers translated into an increase in compensation—like it has for nurses. Something definitely needs to change and maybe the change that is needed is that of a union. While I don’t have all the answers, I believe that this topic deserves more discussion and also subsequent advocacy.
It’s interesting how much better the word(s) “resign” or “step down” sound instead of “quit.” A month ago I was in a job that I really didn’t like. I often found myself fantasizing about how I would spend my days if I wasn’t confined to my cubicle answering calls and typing stuff. I really felt that my professional skills were wasting away and that I needed to do something different. I worked from February to June without any days off other than weekends and a holiday so that I could hoard some vacation time and also plot my escape from the plantation—I mean the job. So I applied for a lot of things and started actively searching for something different. I went on vacation and realized that I had forgotten how nice it was to sleep in for a change and sleep well at night. Throughout this time period I had been interviewing for several different positions. I had a target date for leaving and was starting to mentally prepare for a change. The transition back to my cubicle was hard and I realized that I couldn’t deal with being so confined much longer. After 7 lovely days on a beach, my free spirit was wanting out ASAP. Don’t get me wrong, I typically give plenty of notice when quitting aka resigning from a job. Like at least a month or so. I’ve trained my replacements and created manuals in order to help the next person get by easier. But this was about to be an exception. All of a sudden there was a shift and I got three job offers in the period of 2 days. It was a wrap. I accepted one of the three jobs and the next day I floated into the office and sent an email saying that I resigned effective immediately. It was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had in my life. It was like I had just been released from prison and I had a new lease on life. I don’t understand why people spend decades in jobs they hate. Life is way too short for all that. Get a plan, work the plan and get out. It’s interesting that later I discovered that most of the people I worked with on my team were being laid off. They say God works in mysterious ways.
As I’ve said throughout the years of doing this blog, I’m a huge fan of consistency balanced with being spontaneous. I truly believe that variety is the spice of life but I also can appreciate the perceived security that is associated with having a daily routine. Needless to say, a while ago I decided that it was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I had a beautiful 3rd floor cubicle with a lovely view of the parking lot but it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. So I found a job that allowed me to travel a bit and put my things into storage and moved across the country from Georgia to California. While it was a huge move, it was definitely very needed. Having a decent quality of life is important to me and I still feel some kind of way about the fact that I spend almost a year in a cubicle, fighting traffic an hour each way in order to go to work. But the feeling I had when I walked into work and submitted my resignation can’t be rivaled. It was truly amazing and I felt like I was floating on air as I drove past the metal gates of the office building for the last time. Needless to say, I don’t know exactly what I’ll do next but I sorta like that feeling. At least for now.
For some reason I’ve met a lot of people whose retirement plan consists of winning the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a nice dream to have but the odds aren’t the greatest. I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about how millennials don’t want to spend decades doing the same job like older generations did. I personally can’t imagine doing the same job consistently for over a year as I get bored easily but also like consistency. The truth of the matter is that it’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve started to get into the habit of doing something drastically different every once in a while. It’s amazing how much you can plan and implement when you take some time off and reflect. I like learning new skills that build on my existing knowledge base. While all my jobs haven’t been fun, they’ve taught me so much about myself. I love the idea of stability but I hate when it gets confused with monotony. Life is short and should be lived accordingly. Self-reflection and planning is critical for success. Take the time to do that instead of staying in reaction mode all the time.
This particular song has grown to be one of my favorites. Ledisi is an amazing artist with a voice that is so unique that you have to take notice. As with many songs, I associate this one with a particular experience. This song brings back memories of a road trip I did not too long after I moved to the West. I had lunch with a friend who convinced me to check on another friend who I had not seen in a long time. It was something that I was reluctant to do but had positive results. After that I traveled back to my parents house and hopped in the van for the road trip to Michigan. This song was on repeat almost the entire trip as my dad refused to give up the wheel and drove the entire night. It’s a song that I think is a classic. The lyrics show a level of transparency that is missing from a lot of the music today.
I’m not exactly a fan of change. I’m not against it because I know that I don’t have a choice and that it will happen regardless of what I think or feel. However, it’s often not a comfortable or pleasant experience. There’s frequently quoted prayer about changing the things we can’t accept and accepting the things we can’t change. I’ve learned that there are some things that we can definitely change about ourselves. While we can’t always change our environments and move away, sometimes a change in mindset makes all the difference. About a six weeks ago I decided to change course a bit and pursue something that I had never tried before. Despite the fact that I don’t care for change, I usually like having new experiences when the trepidation wears off. Feeling like you don’t have any control is one of the quickest ways to start acting irrationally. I learned this quickly in my work with others. The more options available, the more people feel as if their words are important–even if they aren’t. This new endeavor is by far something that I’m not used to. However, I know without a doubt that I’ll regret it for a significant period time if I don’t push forward and go after it. I’ve never quite agreed with the “one size fits all” mentality and despite the initial discomfort associated with the unfamiliar, I know that it’s the right decision to make. The pros and cons have been weighed and ironically things have started to line up in a way I didn’t expect since deciding on this new course of action. In some circles people would call that confirmation. I have analyzed and overanalyzed and yet the same course of action still presents as the most logical direction to go. I’ve learned that there are some things I can’t change and some things that I can. And now it’s time to make one of those “change-able” changes.