Lessons Learned

Hello I am back - yet again!  I just didn't have anything worth saying for a while lol but today I had to get this one out there.  Sorry no pictures or cute stories or anecdotes or DIY just some thoughts on what   I do to pay the bills.  :)

I am not sure how much you know about my world by day - I know I have told you I am a counselor by day.  Well where doesn't matter and neither does in what field exactly but there are certain areas that are important - what you need to know is I work with a "difficult" population - primarily mandated criminal justice patients.

If you would have asked me when I was in grad school if this is where I would be 4 years ago I would have laughed and told you you were crazy!  Fast forward 4 years and it somehow fits.

Prior to being where I am, I was a social worker for a nursing home.  That was something that 6 weeks into the job I hated it, came home crying every single day and started looking for a new job then and there and continued to search until I found my current job almost a year and a half later.

See I am a firm believer in a few "cliches" -
Everything happens for a reason
If it is meant to be it will be
Life is all about perspective and 
God always has a plan.  
These things have helped me not go completely insane many, many, many times!  So I believe that I was at my first job for a reason and I believe that my current job was meant to be because you see the week I was leaving for my wedding I got a phone call, interview and offer for my current job within 24 hours.  I remember calling To and telling him they offered it to me but I did not know how to put in a 2 week notice.

See the job offer and everything was finalized by Tuesday - I was leaving for my wedding on Friday!!  So To told me just write a letter of resignation RIGHT NOW!  So I did that and went away for almost 3 weeks I believe, came back finished up my last week and started my new job a week later!  It was a crazy whirlwind but it was meant to be.  My entire life God has blessed me with perfect timing but the funny thing is I never recognize it until so much later!

This was 2.5 years ago now and it has been an interesting journey.  You see unfortunately the population, building and very field I work in comes with much critique, stereotypes, judgement and a whole plethora of crap really.  I will admit prior to starting in the field I was guilty of much of the same things and I hate that because I try so hard to be as PC as possible and as nonjudgmental as possible but unfortunately I am human.

In my short time in this field I have learned so much about myself, the field, what it means to be a counselor, how you can help others and what it means to appreciate what you do.  See this is the first time where I don't go home crying from work.  I don't hate my job - I will admit I hate the politics that come with it and I also hate the unfortunately mountain of paperwork that often takes away from client time but aside from that I love what I do!

I love that a group of people who are often seen by society as "bad" have taught me so much!  You see so often the people I work with need nothing more than some structure and a helping hand.  Today I had to step back because I have started to lose myself and some of my compassion.  See if you know anything about "criminal justice" it often comes with some antisocial behaviors - which are not what you think they are lol.  So I as a counselor have had to learn this fine line between compassion and not being manipulated but it is often easier to become more rigid and strict rather than remember I have to step back sometimes!

It is so easy to get caught up in my "job" rather than focus on my passion.  I will admit I am that person that wants to help others - no I don't think I am going to "fix" anything or anyone because there is nothing to fix - I can only help.  I can provide tools, educations, new view points and a different perspective.  Because I want to help people that means I have to remember how to sometimes.  Now don't get me wrong, I never lose my "skills" so to speak but sometimes I am not as focused on remember not to get stressed out and not to worry and not to focus on not being "run over."

So back to today I have two co workers in particular that are great to go to when I need to refocus because they are honest, kind and good at what they do.  So today I had to bounce a few thoughts around and my co worker was able to help me reframe, refocus and remember why I do this!!  Lately I have been thinking what the hell am I doing?  Why do I spend my time here?  What good am I doing?  Am I even helping anyone?  Do I make a difference at all?  And I realized - wait this isn't about me!  My job is not about making me happy and making me feel good about what I do and it isn't about me making changes it is about what I help others to do!  The glory isn't for me but for them!

And this was a bit of an eye opener because I did exactly what I never wanted to - I got caught up in my job and forgot why I want to do this.  It is so easy to fall prey to other people's negativity and view on things and lose yourself.  I don't want to do that!  My co worker said something to me that I tell my group all of the time - "you have to decide for yourself what is right and wrong."

That was probably the point that it hit home - it isn't about the cynicism of others and getting caught up in what they "know to be true" it is about what I believe is right.  In order to best help people I must learn to always be true to me!

Long story short - life is about perspective - you have to choose how will you view the world.

Will you see people with a criminal past as always being "bad" people and manipulative or do you choose to see the times they make progress and use appropriate language and try to challenge their own beliefs and thoughts on their lifestyle choices?  Do you focus on the ugly in people or the good?  You will always find good if you look for it and this holds to be even more true with ugly and bad.  Just like I tell my groups - "you have to make choices for yourself, nobody can live your life, nobody can force you to do anything, you have to live your life for you!"

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

"Holding a grudge is like letting someone rent space for free in your head."

All lessons truly learned in the past 2.5 years.

Where have you gotten the most surprising of lessons in life?

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