One of the things that I appreciate about social work is that there is an abundance of things to do. You aren’t required to stay doing the same thing for decades at a time. There’s room to try something different and learn a completely new set of skills while still working in the field. One thing I’ve noticed is that while people are all different, they share a lot of commonalities as well. There’s a video that went viral recently where a lady was recounting her experience at a popular store. She observed a customer being nasty to a cashier that appeared flustered and to be having a bad day. After confronting the customer, the cashier shared that he had had a very recent tragic loss and was struggling to pay rent. The lesson from the story is that you never know what someone is going through so be kind to everyone. The holidays can bring up so many emotions for people as they remember loved ones they miss and re-hash old wounds with family members. It’s a time that many people are especially fragile and as someone who has worked in mental health, I’ve noticed there’s a increase in suicide attempts after major holidays. This isn’t an appeal for world peace (as much as we need it). Just a reminder to try to be a bit more patient and kind as you interact with people. You don’t know their stories.
I’m the type of person who really hates feeling confined. I’m not a fan of small places and while they don’t evoke a panic-like reaction from me, I don’t go out my way to experience them. My parents attest to this fact by reporting I was an escape artist as a toddler. For some reason I hated my crib and would often raise my foot above my head to the guardrail and hoist myself over the railing and fall to the floor. Somehow I managed not to permanently injure myself as I escaped multiple times from my jail–I mean crib. Growing up and being homeschooled afforded me the ability to have a nice balance of structure and flexibility. I remember playing outside in our backyard one day in rural Alabama and saying to my mother that we should go visit my grandparents in Michigan. She liked the idea and within about four hours we had embarked on the 17 hour roadtrip north. Totally unplanned and random. I personally know a lot of people who stay so tied to their to do list that they miss out on a lot. Flexibility is a trait that can come in handy because it demonstrates an ability to think on your feet. I love structure and predictability but I’m also a firm believer in planned spontaneity. Those are scheduled times where I get to do whatever I want (within reason) without an agenda. I’m still in the process of finding a great balance of structure and planned spontaneity but I believe it can be found.