the non-profit i currently work for (very part time) pays me, like, nothing. seriously. the amount of money i spend in gas plus the time i spend commuting is almost not worth it. so it's all about the experience. sadly, what i'm doing is not only the absolute bottom of the ladder, but it's not really with the population i (think i) want to work with.
i think i've outlined it before, but let me go over my job again. i make drinks. i make iced tea, diet iced tea, fruit punch, and lemonade. i put some chips and pretzels in bowls and dump a handful of individual sized bags of chips on a table. i open a couple of packages of cookies and put them on said table. i ensure ice is available, as well as utensils, plates, and cups. then i play dominos or 'socialize' with the attendees. i then help serve dinner. i wash the majority of the dishes, then socialize a bit more, then drive a few attendees home. then it's back to the center to do nothing (or play candy crush) until it's time to go home.
i commute 35/40 minutes each way, three times a week. it's putting miles on my leased car and it's evenings. three nights a week i'm not home. awesome husband @_antgas gets to go to the gym and play video games - and eat whatever is in the house.
now, it's not a bad job. i like most of the people i work with. it's the people we serve, the population we work for. the non-profit i work for is a 'behavioral rehabilitation' center. they have programs for all types of mental illnesses, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse. the people who come to the social program are not necessarily clients of the center - some of them are just people in the community who want to socialize (or, more accurately, get free food). many of the people live in group homes, or 'community housing'. most, if not all, are on some sort of public assistance: disability, welfare, medicaid, whatever. so i get that they could use the food. but they could be nicer about it.
and some of them are just plain crazy (remember, i'm crazy too). but these people. one hums like all. the. time. and not along to anything - just hums. one never washes. one has had a double mastectomy and still smokes (and also doesn't wash).
i feel bad feeling this way, but i don't want to hang out with these people.
i don't want to drive people home in my nice, fairly new, expensive-monthly-lease-payment car. the day after i washed it, someone put their hand palm down on the window. i had a huge hand print for days. some of these people have had bedbugs in the past. i don't want to bring them home (the people or the bedbugs). some of these people just don't wash, and i don't want their stink in my car. one of them wears too much - way too much - perfume. so much that it's infused the passenger seat belt and @_antgas can smell it when he rides in my car.
it's interesting that this started bugging me recently (an entire month after i started the job). i was thinking about how to finish school. should i bust my hump and try to finish this year? what should i do about a masters program? i made an appointment with my advisor and met with her. we were thinking social work, taking my time with the classes so as not to risk my gpa, and starting my masters program in fall '15.
now? not so sure.
do you know what social work means? i mean, really? a social work degree means serving those less fortunate. it means working with the homeless, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled. it means working with the people i work with now. it means working to gain them rights and respect and services.
these are all wonderful, nobel things. but do you know what's missing from that list?
sure, social workers can counsel people. they can hang their own shingle, as it were, and provide counseling. but social work degrees really focus on the social aspect of it.
do you know what i want to do? my first stop is addictions counseling. but do you know what i really think i want to do, something that really interests me? i'd like to counsel privately. i think i'd really like to study sexuality and gender issues... perhaps counseling lgbt adolescents. maybe working with women and gender-related issues.
i don't think a social work masters will work.
there's another option on long island - a mental health counseling masters. only one school offers it (and it's not as cheap as the nice, big, state school which has it's own school of social work). it focuses on counseling, on providing counseling, that stuff. not so much the advocacy, the getting-of-services, stuff like that. it focuses on counseling - and allows one to hang their own shingle.
i could go for this degree and go into practice for myself if i wanted. i could study sexuality and gender identity issues and addiction and women's issues and whateverthefuckiwant and go counsel people about it.
i think i know which way i'm leaning, but it's not anywhere near where i thought i'd be:
- i used to think i'd be dead by 30, either from drugs or suicide (i'm 33).
- i always thought i'd commit suicide if my mother died because i couldn't live without her (she died when i was 30).
- i used to want a doctor to put me on disability so i could sit around and want to die in peace.
- i never thought i'd be in school at all, let alone for what i'm going for.
- i thought i'd always want to kill myself, have obsessive thoughts, hear my own voice in my head telling me horrible things about myself.
i just thought that was how it would be.