We’re not that different…….this is a line that I hear throughout the office many times during the week. Colleagues come back from working with families and something hits home. Frustration with children led to a punishment that went to far, prescription pain pills attacked someone’s brain and now they’re addicted to heroin, a family was evicted because the parents lost their jobs and don’t qualify for subsidized housing, a baby has an unexplained injury but later we find out it was an accidental fall.
Often times we think these are horrible things that happen in our society. I guarantee if you really think about it, we have all experienced so many of the same things our families have either personally, or through a friend or family member. We’re really not that different.
What is different, typically, are the supports we have in our lives. Many social workers entered this profession due to hardships or abuse they encountered as children and they want to make a difference. Many families I’ve worked with that have overcome addiction say they want to go back to school to help others overcome what they did. Foster children grow up and enter a profession of helping others. There is a reason many of us are in this profession. We are helpers and want to make a difference. See a change. But still, we’re really not that different.
I had to stay home with a sick child today. Fortunately I have a career with sick time that pays me for days off. Often, families we work with have to call off sick to stay home with children and end up losing their jobs. Which leads to losing housing, or the children not eating. Today I was able to call family members to ask advice on my child’s illness; other family members called me to check in and see how things were or if I needed something. Many families we work with have no one to rely on, call and check on them, or help them out. They may think the neighbor has befriended them, and ask that neighbor to babysit. And the next thing you know, CPS shows up on their door step because the babysitter hurt the children, or did something dangerous while the parent was at work. Sometimes the children go back to school hungry, or the water was shut off. In reality, that could be me. It could be any of us. We are just a step away if we don’t have the right supports, or resources.
Social work can be labeled many different ways, as can many other professions. I’ve named my blog with the term “hero”.
Let’s see what is the textbook definition of a hero.
A hero is defined as such:
1. A person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character:
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal:
Today my child regarded me as a hero for simply providing him medicine that made him feel better. He plainly told me that I was his “superhero” because I took away his sickness. Police officers, firefighters, EMT’s are often labeled heroes without a blink of any eye because they “save lives” and are viewed for their courageous acts. Clients I have worked with have gotten clean and become sponsors for others, they speak about their addiction and are viewed as courageous for fighting an uphill battle and winning. They become a role model for others to show it’s possible. Foster children have grown up to be amazing people by overcoming adversity and horrendous childhoods; they speak about this and are regarded as role models as well. It is very easy for us to have “opinions” others but that is what the definition says. Opinions often matter, and often they don’t. My point today is about the simple fact that we’re not that different from each other. We all have crossed different paths, walked different roads and chosen (or not) different ways of life. Some good, some bad, some by accident. Either way, we are all humans who do our best with what we are given. Social worker, client, friend, family, enemy, lover. Remember……….we are really NOT that different.
And also remember, in the eyes of innocent children, superheroes are AWESOME! 😊
Have a fabulous Monday. ~Social Work Superhero