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It’s been awhile….

October 19, 2010

So I was accurate in saying (in my very first post) that I would put this blog before school work, as I most certainly have not been doing much school work (especially readings) the past couple weeks.  What I did not realize at the time I wrote that was something would enter my life that would take up precious blog time: my field placement.  It’s funny, thinking about my pre-field placement thoughts on my field placement…I had no desire to work for Pathways and was quite apprehensive…and now knowing how very much I love the organization and my work with it.

Technically I work 8 AM – 4 PM Wednesdays and Thursdays (add to that my hour or longer commute at those hours -ughh).  But, as I have been learning about the social work profession, I am always working.  Part of this is very conscious.  Take today for example: I did not have school today, but had to go into the city to attend a hearings at noon.  Afterwards I went to MLK library to try to find a man I met Friday afternoon.  Given the population I work with aren’t the easiest to contact, I spend a lot of time wandering downtown D.C. looking for people.  I was unable to find the gentleman — let’s call him Richie — so decided to go to Pathways instead of heading home.  I did a little work at Pathways then again had the option of go home or continue working.  As I was suppose to meet Mick tomorrow morning, but am no longer able to, I could either send someone at Miriam’s an email to pass along the message or go to Miriam’s and talk with Mick myself.  I choose the latter (knowing it would add about 45 minutes onto my commute) because it’s what I genuinely want to be doing with my time (as opposed to going home and writing one of the four papers I have due).

That’s my conscious example of how I am always working.  The other way I am always working is still pretty conscious, but it’s more…external.  Life coming at me.  I had been dreading last Friday’s date for some time now and knew it was going to be an emotionally rough day for me, so I decided I wanted to spend the day at Pathways because I knew that was my best option to avoid any spiraling funk (I’ve been in a pretty massive funk as of late so no more spiraling is needed).  I did all I had to at Pathways and had a bit of time before a few of us were going to happy hour, so I decided to go to MLK and get out some books for a client.  On my way in I saw a man sitting on the corner.  He was still there as I was leaving, so I went over and sat with him and struck up a conversation.  It’s an interesting thing.  You go into approaching a person with so much good intent it’s difficult to see the encounter from the other side and therefore you are sometimes thrown off by the others hostile attitude.  I’m quite self-aware and conscious and I know a stranger approaching an incredibly vulnerable person is not going to receive the warmest welcome.  For instance, if someone came up to me and said all cheerfully: Hi!  I’m here to help you!  Come with me.  I would probably speak some French and walk away….

Anyway, even with this awareness, it is still a bit of a let down to receive a hostile response.  Richie was pretty hostile to me at first.  Actually, he would go back and forth.  Whenever I tried to get personal (through my questions) he would get very hostile and shut down, so I would have to talk him back and he’d warm right back up and be all engaging and friendly.  It was interesting.  And I was rather proud of my ability to navigate the waters — especially because this was really my first solo, unplanned interaction with a consumer in their environment.  A large part of outreach is building relationships.  You can’t demand trust right away.  You have to work up to a certain level.  Because of this, the consumer’s attitude dictates the goal of the interaction.  So if a client is extremely angry and hostile, the initial goal is thrown out the window and the new goal is to is to get to a point where you walk past and can smile and get a hello.

That’s all I am going to say for now….I don’t have time or energy for any more and it has been a LONG time since posting so….I’m just gonna leave this with a quote and then continue blogging on Thursday!  Really!  I’m back!!

“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

But remember: “I didn’t say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth.”
– Morpheus

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