When I grow up, I want to be.....
Well, for most of us this sentence isn't realized. It is put off, second guessed, ruled out and other times ridiculed or ignored. For others, it gets tweaked a bit and only a select few really become that person we wanted to be when we grew up. I know for me this changed a lot through the years but the general theme was to work with people and to serve them well in some small way.
When I was a little girl, aside from the typical "I wanna be a teacher or veterinarian", I knew that I wanted to try to make a difference in people's lives. I used to say "I want to help people with their problems", not knowing the precise title or occupation that entailed.
Later, I learned this resembled the occupation of a social service worker but it could also mean family member or friend because they, too, need to be helped out with their problems (I did too at the best of times).
I suppose you could say I followed my dream. I know some people felt I wouldn't be compensated well enough from a financial stand-point to deal with such challenges. My response - that's not what this was about. It was to help people. However, in hindsight, the people I worked with actually "helped" me. They helped me find my way.
I learned to be humble. I learned compassion. I learned about human nature in all of its glory and defeat. I learned best by doing, be seeing, by witnessing, by listening. I began my career wanting to save the world. I took on way too much at times, I lost lots of sleep, I shed tears, I had trouble drawing clear boundaries when I wanted to go to the endth for people. I learned about people's struggles with codependency, healing and truth. I learned that we really are equals in this world - the same vulnerable human beings who fear the same things and want the same things out of life. I learned that people's choices were their own and most importantly, I had to learn that it really wasn't about me.
I gave people their power back. I put it back in their laps when they wanted me to make their decisions for them, I held their hand when they faced their fears, I celebrated them when they rose to the occasion of life and moved out of the darkness. I waved goodbye when it was time and I was a refined "ice breaker". I was just my plain old real self and it worked with most people. I learned to have a reliable sense of humour when things went array and I learned to forgive myself when I made mistakes.
Eventually, I went from amateur and naive helper of people to a more self-assured and seasoned veteran. I learned when to say yes and when to say no and when to walk away from situations that may put me at risk.
I have been afforded the opportunity to have worked with over 1000 people in my career! I have been threatened a dozen times, sworn at frequently but hugged more often. Now I have decided it's time to hang up my hat and call it a day.
"If you love and serve man, you cannot, by any hiding or stratagem, escape remuneration".
- Ralph Waldo Emerson