3:00AM

 

^Found this mixtape by chance, and absolutely loving it.

The recent weeks have left me feeling all sorts of emotions – overwhelmed, thankful, hopeful, hopeless.

SWIC 2018 was a wild decision, so thankful for the opportunity to be a facil despite my lacking experience as a practitioner in this field. Learnt so, so much from the agency visits & sharing from fellow Workers, and also reaffirmed my love & passion for this wonderful sector. Through the camp, I realised that what I hoped to offer to fellow Workers, was the willingness and being daring enough to not just think with my head, but to embrace things with my heart. To allow myself to be vulnerable enough to feel emotions that hit close to home, and yet maintaining that professionalism. Values guide us, but whether they define us entirely is then debatable.

Reconnected with a friend yesterday, and he mentioned that the conversation we shared back when I was in Y3S2 changed his life – one that we had during a lecture. After the semester I never really followed up with this friend, but meeting again yesterday made me feel so…. overwhelmed with emotions. It was because of that conversation, he decided to switch to social work major. Immensely thankful & glad that it was a choice he didn’t regret :’) And it goes to show how words do have an impact. May we never forget the power of words, and the importance of conversations.

“I hope you will never lose the passion & always remember the reason why you are doing what you are doing.” A line from the farewell card given by an intern today. It was a fun ride alongside ’em interns, and through conversations & processing with them, it made me more self aware about my values. On hindsight, I concluded that there is no “good” or “bad” social worker, but rather about the “goodness of fit” in the sector they work in. If someone seems to be a “bad” worker, it may just very well be because they haven’t found their true calling, the right sector where they’ve always been meant to be in.

Giving a public talk tomorrow – first talk as a practitioner in the field (!!) Going to share about what living with cancer means, and the psychosocial aspects of how cancer may affect an individual and their loved ones. Feeling so inadequate – for who am I to share on behalf of the department? But feeling so encouraged by all the random “jiayous” and people who believe in me. May the talk go smoothly, and that I do this profession proud 🙂

So, so humbled by the experiences & opportunities I have been given along the way. Learning to be appreciative, and to embrace the fact that perhaps, I do have something to offer to this world too.

 

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Self-care

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We cannot simply sit and stare at our wounds forever.

We must stand up and move on to the next action.

Don’t think I can emphasise on the importance of self-care as much as it deserves.

Different people have different coping mechanisms, but what seems to be a common one is to always remind yourself of why you first started, where your passion lies, and what are your motivations. Sure enough, we witness the uglier side of humanity on a daily basis as social workers – how do we then decide when it is time to let the passion take a step back, and honestly reflect and reconsider upon this choice to be a social worker?

In recent weeks, I have seen friends fall deeper and deeper into the pit of low mood….. and the helplessness is legit. And yet I find myself struggling to stay afloat as well, yes there are good days that make things seems a whole lot better, but how do we also then manage those bad days when everything seems to be a mistake? It hurts to be helpless, it hurts to admit that we are helpless. And it’s difficult to reach out for help.

Nothing is black, nothing is white. In this profession, everything is grey, and that’s what makes our work so meaningful, that’s what makes our work exciting, and yet that’s what makes our work so frustrating too. It’s good to be aware of your frustrations, because it then makes you more focused on knowing what should be done next to mend those gaps – to change that frustration into motivation. But the question then would be, where do we draw the line?

How could what makes our profession so beautiful, be the very same thing that eventually causes people to leave the profession? I hope I’ll never find the answer to that question.

Being in the medical setting also means that something we can’t run away from is death. When we mourn, when we grief, what goes through our minds exactly? Does the sadness stem from a selfish belief of being unable to achieve certain things, or is it due to perceived regrets by the deceased?

When we think about the question “what does death mean to you?”, we can’t run away from also thinking about “what does living mean to you?” Just wondering, how important is it for workers to have our own answers, before we are ready to work with others? Will we ever be ready?

And as professionals, what kind of regrets surface when we face the death of our patients? Given our role in this, and that the harsh truth is that our time is finite and we aren’t here as befrienders, we do not have the luxury of time to spend with them. So when the quantity is compromised, let’s at least make sure that the quality isn’t.

Of late night thoughts and reflections. Till the next time.

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Riptide

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A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.

Every day at work poses new challenges, and they weren’t kidding when they said that the learning curve will be steep right from the very start. Learning new things through each case, and as cliche as it might sound, I really learn a lot hearing the life stories/worries/troubles/problems from my patients. Learning their resilience, and in some cases, the ugly truth is that I also become aware of what not to do in life. Kinda something I realised even during my volunteering days….. everytime we reflected on our takeaways from a session, we tend to focus on the positive side of things. ‘Strengths perspective’ was the consistent answer I gave my supervisors since my placement days, whenever I was told to share about a theory that I am comfortable & would apply in my daily work.

We view them from a positive POV – don’t get me wrong, I fully support this & that strengths perspective has been a regular theory I subscribe to since my early social work days till now – but what about the flip side of things? We always say we learn their resilience, their responsibility, their will (& the list goes on), but how often do people actually say “I learnt the importance of prioritising because I see xxx having regrets about xxx and now it’s too late to make amendments”? This, in itself, is a strength, no? While I subscribe to strengths perspective, I wonder what it means to each individual, and how different each person’s definition of strengths perspective is, which in turn influences the way they deliver their intervention. Just some food for thought haha. & glad that an organisation I dedicated a significant part of my undergrad life to subscribes to it as well – for & only when applied carefully & properly, I really believe in the powers & impact it can have 🙂

Pushing my boundaries & testing my limits – I wonder when I’d cross that threshold? Really love my supervision sessions because my sup helps me surface & concretise incongruence within myself that I might not even be aware about. And to also continue developing myself further as both a professional and as a person. Moving beyond the theories I’m comfortable with & all ’em active listening skills, I’m nervous yet excited to start learning & integrating a new systemic framework into my daily work.

Like what my sup always says, the two most important things as a social worker are:

‘Intent’ & ‘Curiosity’

May I never lose these two guiding principles.

In other news……….. exactly 80 days till a much needed getaway 🙂 So excited for it, hopefully I’ll be able to clear as much work as I can before that so that I can heal elsewhere with an absolute peace of mind. Counting down everyday, and thanks to the hectic work life, this countdown is actually moving faster than I expected.

Friends who have been in close contact with me would have known about my almost-burn out phase I experienced last month because of weeks of work & OT straight without any breaks even during the weekends. And subsequently, it dawned on me the negative implications it had on me – I was almost dreading going to work everyday. So I made it a point to recalibrate my life and attain that equilibrium again. I’m much more at ease with how my life is now, although I haven’t reached that ideal state, I know I’m heading there. Slowly, but surely 🙂

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Honesty

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Self-confidence, I’m realizing, is a lot deeper than just thinking I’m beautiful and being free in who I am. It also includes being confident in my decisions and trusting myself to be committed to the things I want to do. To step outside of my comfort zone and assure myself that I will be okay in doing so. This kind of self-confidence will help me see the success I want to see.

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Transition from being a student to being a full-time working adult was . . . odd. But it has been an interesting ride thus far, and to say the very least I’m (thankfully) enjoying the process as a whole. Definitely more responsibilities, and the need to be independent is a lot more prominent than ever before.

As much as I’m trying my best to be conscious about certain things, thinking back about the past week, I realised instances where I was unintentionally & unknowingly viewing circumstances of others through my personal lens. I need to be more mindful, and to not let my inexperience get in the way of the assistance/help I can offer as a worker to my patients hmm.

3 weeks into the job and I can safely say that I really, really love what I’m doing even though it might get so fast paced/exhausting/tiring at times. Started to OT already but I blame it on nothing but my lack of efficiency and that I’m still trying to get used to things. Hopefully I’ll get more productive in the coming weeks & shorten the time needed whoopiewhoooop! Feeling incredibly blessed to have such supportive & nice colleagues too 🙂 I think the work environment is so important/crucial in ensuring survival in this industry as a whole haha.

Engaged in random splurges of clothes, makeup, books in the past week…….. shame on you when you lack that discipline but still preach to your patients about the importance of self-control lol. Must be the stress haha, but taking this long weekend as a form of respite before the craziness hits again when Tuesday comes.

Being a social worker is really a life-long learning process, and I’m so thankful for all the support as I trudge through this journey, both with fellow social workers & the clients/patients I work with 🙂 Feeling so blessed!

Slowly, but surely :’) These 6 months wouldn’t be easy, but I know it’ll be more than worth it.

Pourquoi

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Some days you just have to create your own sunshine.

This morning, I spent an hour or so just reading through social work related articles, watching social work related videos, and just reflecting about social work/being a worker in general.

I felt happy, witnessing the efforts of this profession that I’m definitely proud to be a part of in the near future. The dedication, the sincerity that comes across as genuine concern and compassion for people.

But somehow, my heart felt heavy. And … burdened? Videos that reflected the realities of being a worker, of the things that we’ll encounter, it was all too real. Some issues depicted in the videos hit home way too hard.

And no amount of preparation could ever be enough for facing what’s to come. But I’ll try. For what it’s worth, I’ll try my hardest. I’m just hoping that my hardest will be enough.

On a lighter note, one last paper tomorrow after a long preparation time for finals whoop whoop so excited for it to end – although I haven’t exactly been the most studious haha, I really enjoy learning but I’m not one for studying.

Last day of November, and hello to December. My favourite month of the year, & I was just thinking about reasons for that randomly and came to the conclusion that December brings about a strong sense of nostalgia, and it’s a feeling that I really, really like.

This post has been nothing short of incoherence, till the next time when my thoughts are more organised haha x

Reality

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You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you still can come out of it.

– Maya Angelou

The irony in the picture above screams too loudly – this is exactly what is not being done, when it’s the exact thing that we should be doing as a Social Work profession. Haven’t felt this kind of disappointment since I started my journey in Social Work, till this whole incident occurred.

Where is the so-called social justice that we are supposed to stand up for? Where is the advocacy that we claim to be doing? How can one seem so nonchalant about the fact that there may be safety compromises in a family – one that they are unwilling to engage because “the family hasn’t given their consent”?

Why is it that, a Worker is willing to rigidly follow policies – aren’t we there to help those that fall through the cracks of such policies? While we acknowledge that there are indeed policies there, why are you letting yourself be limited by these policies? The very fact that you realise there are limitations – shouldn’t you actually be doing something about it?

What is our purpose then? 

For the first time, I don’t know what to believe in anymore.

The anger within me is being surfaced by an underlying pool of disappointment. I’m disappointed at the service (or lack thereof) that is provided; I’m disappointed in the attitudes of the professionals that we’ve interacted with for this incident; I’m disappointed that the professionals are actually okay with such practices in their agency; I’m disappointed by the condescending tone that we received upon stepping into the agency & how we’re treated as though we’re totally clueless and don’t possess any knowledge at all.

& most importantly, I’m disappointed and ashamed to realise that all that I’ve believed in, all the passion and trust I have in this profession, this picture that I’ve painted mentally, is not all that it seemed to be.

It’s sad, and I acknowledge that this profession isn’t one that is fully recognised in our community yet. It’s sad that there are still misconceptions about what we do, or that we are powerless to help people. People may have their misconceptions, and while we strive to dispel them, maybe these misconceptions are built upon unsaid truths of people’s experiences. From what I witness through this incident, this agency is still, at its current development, no more than the hands of the puppet that policies control.

In the (near) future, may I never be someone that loses sight of the meaning of what being a Worker entails. Because today, I’m speaking as nothing more than a victim of the failure in service provided by an agency. & if I ever be such a Worker in the future, I will leave the profession.

And if I don’t, please make me.

Reminders

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As a Social Worker …

I am here to listen,
not to work miracles

I am here to help people discover what they are feeling,
not to make feelings go away

I am here to help people identify their options,
not to decide for them what they should do

I am here to discuss steps with people,
not to take the steps for them

I am here to help people discover their own strengths,
not to rescue them and leave them vulnerable

I am here to help people discover they can help themselves,
not to take responsibility for them

I am here to help people learn to choose,
not to keep them from making difficult choices

I am here to provide support for change.