It’s come to my attention that people like lists. What else could explain that existence of (and my not-so-secret addiction to) buzzfeed.com? So in the spirit of small, easily digestible pieces of information, I present:
5 Things I’ve Learned in Social Work School
1) Everything will get done. Somehow.
Over the past year and a half that I have looked over my to do list and told myself that there is no way I’m going to get everything done an untold number of times. The sensation is familiar enough that I’d estimate it happens at least once a week. But despite the familiar feeling in reality I have never once ended up not accomplishing my goals. Yes, I’ve asked for and received extensions on deadlines. Yes, I’ve pulled an all-nighter or two. Yes, I’ve skipped a social event here or there. These are all things I’d prefer not to do again. But in the end everything on those seemingly so overwhelming to do lists was accomplished.
2) Your calendar is your best friend.
When you have a million things to do part of the magic of accomplishing everything “somehow” is to have all those things listed in one place. Whether you buy one or make one, use your phone, Google calendar, or a good old-fashioned day planner, get yourself a calendar and use it everyday.
3) School is one thing. Education is another.
I started my MSW nine years after completing my bachelor’s degree. At the time, I was ecstatic at the idea of returning to school. And it’s been a great experience. However, the one thing that has become overwhelmingly obvious through my return to formal schooling is this. I make have graduated from college, but my education never ended. Being in graduate school makes it plain that life in and of itself is an education. Further, the field practice based nature of social work education serves to emphasis this reality.
4) You can’t save anyone and that’s not your job anyway.
Speaking of education based on life experience. Many people enter the so-called “helping professions” such as social work with the expectation that they will “help people”. I suppose “helping people” means different things to different people, but I have noticed a pattern among my classmates throughout our time in school. Many of us entered school thinking that our mere presence and goodwill would better or even “fix” our clients’ lives. Through our internships two things have become clear. One, our clients don’t want us to fix them or their lives. Two, it’s not our job to judge or decide what constitutes a better life for our clients.
5) Playtime is essential.
Yes, you have a lot to do. Yes, you are responsible to many people; clients, bosses, professors, supervisors. But if you’re going to get it all done, you need to be at your best. That means taking a break and having some fun. Do your thing. Whether it be running, dancing, painting, video games, sitting in the park, yoga, or something else, bust out that calendar and schedule in some playtime. So that you really can and will get it all done, somehow.