Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I Want to Be a Mentee
I switched careers officially in April 2009. I felt like a pioneer, shedding the comforts of living in one place to traverse a great landscape; enduring a chuckwagon wheel breaking and going without - food, water, even strength. I took a risk, and I've done the best I can to adapt - until recently. . . where I realized I need something new now. I need support, a number to call, a friendly face that has been through these trenches and can say that the turns I took were right or maybe too cavalier; too reckless. What would my mentor do differently next time?
Where is my mentor?
It's not just reassurance I need, though positive feedback makes me stand tall and feel capable to not only hit the road on an adventure but have the courage to make the return trip too. I crave a critical eye; someone who cares enough about me to be honest. Someone who has been there before and understands the challenge of self-preservation when you're sitting in front of a young woman who has been raped and is recounting her story from last night, still fresh and open. After hearing about trauma, poverty and crisis, I don't intuitively know how to go home at the end of the day and take care of myself. Even in my sleep, I'm still taking care of these beautiful young people.
I feel trapped many days, working under the weight of what feels like a great and global responsibility. How do I continue to admire a client's journey when I resent, at times, his presence in my doorway? Because it will be another crisis, and I'm already brimming with the residue from the last one. How do I not feel that their problems are all the same, and become blasé to what a conversation with me means to them? I realize that all professionals go through this, but being removed from someone's admission that they are homeless feels downright inhumane.
I love my job. I love the challenge, but I need someone to teach me the power (the necessity) of a deep breath and to not neglect my long-term goals, in and amongst holding back the dam for clients. I know part of it is relinquishing: responsibility, onus and the need to be vigilant no matter what. I am entitled to days where my performance isn't profound, this much I know. It's impossible to be present and to take action for every hand reaching out of the sand.
I guess I need someone to tell me that it's ok. That they have done it before and that my sanity and self-care is the most important task I have every day.