I get asked by a lot of people about my occupation. When I tell them that I work in a restaurant and I fold linen most people are shocked. I have a lot of knowledge and professional skills in many areas and I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. “Why?” So many people are perplexed at why I choose to stay in the line of work I do instead of going into my field of study. I have been told by teachers, co-workers, colleagues, and friends that I have a gift, a natural talent, for social work. So, why have I not pursued this line of work?
During my senior year of college I had to complete an internship in an area of social work that was targeted for your specific interest in the field. I completed my internship with an organization that offered several services to help meet basic human needs such as: food, transportation, rent assistance, utility assistance, legal aid, employment assistance, case management, and the list goes on and on. I really enjoyed doing this work and I thought this was the path for me. I completed my internship and graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 G.P.A.. So, what changed my mind about social work? Well, the truth is, your occupation may not be your life’s work.
I remember one day when I was working with a family at my internship and I was listening to their story I heard a small voice in my head that said to me, “you help so many people and share great insights with these people, why are you not following your own advice?” I felt bad for my client because I could no longer focus on what their issues were; all I could focus on was this voice telling me to heed my own advice.
I went home that night and couldn’t get it out of my head. Was I doing what was best for me? On the outside, I had everything together: home, car, spouse, kids, and a dog. I wasn’t struggling financially and I was finishing up my school in just a few months. The more I thought about it, the more I felt a pit in my stomach. That is when I realized that our outside world is just a shell and it is what is within that matters the most. I was a broken person inside. I realized that I worked well with my clients because almost everyone that I worked with, at some point in my life, I had been through something similiar. I had not healed my inner self and I had a lot of wounds to heal. This will take a lifetime I am sure, but each day I work on trying to heal what’s in my heart and soul.
After school finished, I decided to focus on myself, more so than my career. I have a lot of health issues that I will journal about another time, but is relevant to say here because most of my health issues went into remission when I started healing my inner self. I have been employed with my company for over 15 years and they treat me quite well and are very understanding with my health issues. I have become very grateful for all they have done to accommodate my health issues, scheduling, and other needs.
While I work, I am able to listen to podcasts, watch videos or movies, and reflect on my daily life as well as my past and future. With the help of my employers, I have been able to become the best version of myself and realize that my purpose in life is to be authentic and share my life stories with the world. My purpose is to live in the moment and enjoy it and the more I heal myself and love myself, the more I can extend myself to others. You cannot give something that you do not have. I learned that the hard way. It robs you of your physical and mental health.
It seems like this world measures success on material possessions, money, power, and/or status. To me, success is about being the best version of yourself: knowing who you are and staying true to who you are, living in your purpose, being kind, loving, empathetic, and compassionate. Your occupation can be your work, but for most it is just one part of a person.
Your work is your purpose, not your occupation.
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