originally written on May 14, 2015
The way I look at social work is that it’s a profession about building and maintaining bridges between people and power- the power of resources and opportunities, of relationships, of resilience and creativity that may lay dormant within the people themselves.
The past nine years for me has been learning about how to build and maintain such bridges. Now that I get to change one of the letters that follow my name and a comma, it’s finally come to the time in which I reflect and challenge myself, to ask, did I spend thousands of dollars and 1,800 hours of safeguarding people’s secrets for a degree, or for an education? Living in a capitalist society where one has significant monetary value over the other, I fear how comfortable my lifestyle ends up being might be in direct negative correlation to living to my truest values. As I’ve gained the immense power to build and maintain bridges, I must make sure that they’re the right kind of bridges, and not ones that lead to nowhere.
The question always comes back to motivation in the work. Why would I do what I do? Before graduating high school, I thought my answer was in my religious conviction, that I’d be rescuing poor people from hell by telling them about Jesus. I wonder how much of that heroism syndrome remains within me as I prepare for my next steps after all these social work internships and after graduation. Practically speaking, I got to make a living too and pay rent like other people here. There’s probably an argument here somewhere that I have qualities and skill that warrant me being paid to help others. To gain and foster those skills has been the crux of this journey and will continue to be so. The challenge though is not focus on that, to reflect, really reflect on how I’m building bridges, what I actually get out of connecting people to power.
I’ve come this far, and technically it doesn’t seem like I’ve come all that far, but I think it’s a good start. What happens nine years later from now, I just hope I’ll be building and maintaining the right bridges.