Job (In)stability

I’ve actually been thinking of writing about this lately, and then today’s Daily Prompt asked: How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?

I am a social worker with a Catholic agency in north St. Louis, and I work with homeless addicted and mentally ill people.  My patience and enjoyment of the position has fluctuated over the years, and maybe that’s normal.  When I first started in this position, I was happy about the work and wanted to try new things, explore different ways of helping the clients. Then I started to see the same people again and again, the revolving door, and anytime I tried something new, I was met with resistance. Later, I started graduate school, and I spent a lot of time focusing on research and macro-level intervention, something I really wanted to get into.  I had hoped to find a job for after graduation (nope) or get into the next PhD cohort (not happenin’).

For the past year, I have been really frustrated and burned out, even considering leaving social work, a profession I’ve always believed in.  Lately, I’ve tried to focus on things about the job I truly enjoy, like leading education and therapy groups. I like the dynamic and the energy in them. I often enjoy talking to people 1:1 and helping them process things in their lives. It’s fulfilling, especially to be helping people in such need as my guys. I’m even considering staying in micro-level practice. Maybe I just need to change the environment, (where the clients are around me all the time) though I like the population. I’ve thought about working in the for-profit sector, which I’ve never done before.

Two recent experiences, however, that lead me to believe that, no matter what, I do need to leave this position in this agency.

1. We’re expected to intervene when fights flare up, and I held client A back from attacking client B. This time, I was closer than usual, actually touching him, actually holding him back. He was tall and kind of out of control, and after that was over, I kind of felt like a badass.

I told my husband about it that night and he was like, “No, you were lucky.” That man could have pushed me onto the tile floor or could have pulled a knife out and stabbed me – I was that close. One week later, that client did stab the same client B in the face, just outside of our building. That could have been me.

2. This past week, we got a bomb threat. It was false. The dogs sniffed and didn’t find anything, and people spoke with the man who made the threat, and he was severely delusional. Coast clear.

I work with some sick people, fine.  I know that.  But now, I’m starting to feel like it’s a matter of time before I get hurt there. And I know it’s not – staff in my program are rarely attacked or “in the way” of another attack, but it does happen. Now to take the first step out this door and into another one, but which door to choose???

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