A friend shared this with me and I found it to be so inspiring as we start this new year.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
…that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return.
And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”
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.
This past year has been interesting. I started it in rural California and then had the opportunity to take time off and visit six countries before I moved to the Bay Area. I learned about myself and spent a lot of time alone. I made some strides in my doctoral journey and finished the bulk of my dissertation. I met some great people and strengthened some friendships. I had one great date and enjoyed several amazing concerts. I moved multiple times and lived like a nomad for a while. I became more intentional about self care and I had the chance to flex my therapy muscles more than I have in years. Overall it’s been a learning experience and I’m looking forward to some changes in 2018.
It’s funny how fast time flies but how slow it can drag by. My birthday is right around the corner and it’s always around this time of year that I take another inventory of what exactly has been accomplished. Last time this year I lived in California and was working at a rehab center. This year I’m in Georgia working as a therapist and I have no clue where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing next year. The biggest thing for me right now is trying to finish school. It’s been a long long journey and I’m ready for it to be over. I’ve learned that it can be important to pace oneself at times. I’ve accomplished a few things professionally this past year. I added two additional clinical licenses in separate states and I’ve made some progress with my degree. Personally I’m still single and while it’s not a surprise to me I still find myself thinking, “maybe next year things will be different.” But there’s no huge surprise there and I’m even more cautious since my job requires me to listen to horror stories of relationships gone wrong. Needless to say, I did have one, yes one really good date this year. And while I’m grateful for that, I’m crossing my fingers to double that to two good dates next year. Celebrate the wins right. I’ve definitely learned more about the importance of self care and as much as I want a significant other, I’m just tired of not winning in that department. I feel that eternal optimism only goes so far. I’m deciding to focus on something else for now because it’s a little too depressing. However, I’m grateful to be where I am for now but I’ll continue to constantly look for different opportunities. You only live once.
I hate moving but I love traveling. There’s always more to think about when you’re relocating and carrying your belongings with you. A little more than a year ago I gave up my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and moved across the country for an adventure. More recently I’ve moved back to my home state and into a new apartment. I love my own space. One thing that’s been helpful in all my moves through the years is that I have a great mother who always wants to help (take over). I’ve flown her in to help me out because I’m on a tight deadline. She’s amazing at being organized but bad at listening to instructions. She likes the moving in process and will inevitably bring in things she likes with the explanation that I don’t have to like them but she’ll use them when she visits. It’s a fair price to pay for the assistance. I don’t know where I’ll be next but maybe soon I’ll put down some roots.
One thing that helps me to relax after a long day or to mentally prepare for the day in the morning before work is music. Lately I’ve found myself listening to music I heard a lot as a child. For some strange reason it’s really calming for me. I found a classic and you can listen to it here. I don’t know why but I really like this song and it’s been on repeat all week. It’s the definition of Christian R&B and it’s a great jam.
While I’ve always known it to some degree, I think there’s some merit to doing what you want to do whether or not you have a significant other. Recently I was talking to someone older who did not look like me and she told me how much she admired black women because they’re so strong and independent and don’t need a man. Now naturally I wanted to provide the scholarly answer and educate her based on my years of research and the fact that my dissertation focuses on black women. But I didn’t and decided to keep it moving. It was still intriguing to me how that mindset is still so active and alive even outside of our own circles. Don’t get me wrong, companionship can be a great thing but being with the wrong person can be worse than being alone. I was talking to someone else this weekend who has resolved not to ever travel outside the country–or outside of the Southeast until they have a significant other. I just don’t feel like that’s a good reason to put all your goals on hold. There’s always something that can be done to have a better quality of life that doesn’t involve someone else. Regardless of whether or not someone shows up for you to spend your life with, you still need to have something to show for your life. Even if it doesn’t consist of parenthood with 2.5 kids, a dog and a picket fence. While I’m not an expert on living your best life, I can honestly say that sometimes you absolutely have to step outside of your comfort zone.