I Quit My Job Because I Loved It
The title may have struck you as odd but it is indeed the truth. On Feb 23rd, 2018 I quit my job in Child Protective Services. I quit because I loved it.
Let me provide some context. I began working in social work 10 years ago. I've held various roles within the field but as of the last 5 I’ve been a child protective worker/supervisor. Through my work in Child Protective Services I've had to physically remove children from their families all while figuring out a way to come back home and live my own normal life that same day. For me, it never got easier.
Through out the years I've taught myself to be rigid with emotions involving my job, to compartmentalize situations because you have to be tough in this field right? We here that constantly. We are taught about secondary trauma but most of us don't really internalize what that actually means. For a long time I would attribute being tired...all the time..to long work hours. I would attribute losing interest in normal things to long days of craziness. I routinely wanted to go home and do nothing barely having anymore of me to give to my partner and/or my family. The social worker in us naturally has us in positions of aid, helping our friends, our families, being there when we're needed most. The sharing of self doesn't end at 5pm yet we do this while sometimes listening to family members knock our career choice. We roll our eyes at that and dismiss it..but do we?
I have a very high tolerance for dysfunction. After working in chaos you begin to rationalize certain things that simply aren't normal, your humor gets dark and your radar is on high alert always, you trust no one. I started to become someone I didn't enjoy. I would space out at work, have a hard time concentrating, anything would set me off. I was burning out. The secondary trauma we all talk about, it was manifesting itself in forms of apathy, disconnection and distraction.
I struggled with the decision to walk away because I truly love what I do. I am passionate about what social work stands for, what we do for society and our families. They need us and without us, as much as the government thinks we're indispensable, the world wouldn't run. I feel very strongly about that and believe that to be true. So I internally compromised & used travel to offset my stress. Except that at times traveling would only make me more anxious to come back. What had happened? What crisis were waiting for me? It didn’t address the core issue.
I began disconnecting from the families we served. I was able to glaze over big traumatic events and act as if that wasn’t just the worst story I had heard/worked on. It’s dangerous when an employee who works for an agency with such authority starts to feel like they’re losing patience, empathy and the humanity in the choices to be made. I couldn’t get to that point, it wasn’t fair to those we served or myself. So I chose to leave, I loved my job to much to resent it.
These positions are of the highest challenge. Most of us go in thinking that we’re in it for the long run but the reality is that I’m not entirely sure they’re meant to be life long positions. We do our very best, give our most but it’s critical to our personal success to never lose focus on self.
On my last day I felt light, liberated and enthusiastic about my new venture. It felt right. Though I realize not all of us have the option to quit (this is not a post encouraging you to do so) we all do have the option to be honest with ourselves and recognize what is slowing us down, whatever it may be. I decided long ago that my happiness and inner peace would always be my priority and those whom I serviced were not at fault for my inability to continue, they didn’t need to be on the receiving end of my process.
No job is without stress that’s a fact and when you want something you need to work hard to get it, absolutely. But it is important to recognize we are all different. We all posses different levels of tolerance in regards to stress and only you know your limit.
To my wonderful, strong, amazing fellow social workers in all roles..be kind to yourself, remember your passion and make sure it’s still what drives you. Always aim high but never at your own expense. Protect your peace my loves.