There are so many things that I’ve learned over these past 3 years of being a social work major, but recently I’ve been learning a lot about professionalism and personal life issues. In social work we have been trained to learn how to work with clients of all different life stories. Some of them include being abused, being homeless, having same sex attractions, being poor, dying, grieving, and so many other really difficult situations. But it wasn’t until this last week that I realized that I’ve learned how to help those (not perfectly) people whom I don’t know, as well as how to not become attached and to terminate the relationship at the end. But what I haven’t learned, is how do I help a close friend who is struggling with these things as well.
Sometimes, I know I get caught up in my major. I try to relate my own personal life to all that I’ve learned in class. But even though I know this is not the worst idea in the world, I know that the situations can be entirely different. When I talk to a friend, I’m not speaking with someone that I know nothing about. I know their lives, their heartache, their fears, their failures, their dirt; and yet, I don’t know how to help them even more. I guess one thing that I’ve been looking at lately is how to help your friends without making them your clients.
I know it sounds like it should be easy. There are clients and there are friends, simply put. But separating those two when you know that your friends are people too, who live difficult lives is very hard and it’s really scary at times. I am so afraid of putting my friends in a box, and making them feel like they are just another one of the people I help at work. My friends are so much more than that, and although they might have the same issues at times, they are still some of my best friends that I would never want to lose.
That being said, I don’t know where to draw the line between professionalism and personal life. I don’t really know how to help friends who are struggling with all that the world gives them. I of course, want to be their for my friends more than anything else. But I’m so confused as to where I am to go with them and how I am to help. My friends mean so much to me, and I don’t want to just think about what I’ve learned in class when I have a deep conversation with them. I want to have a meaningful dialogue with them about life their struggles. I want to make sure that they see that I am first and foremost their friend and second, I am a social worker.
I know one day I’ll get better at this, but for now it’s just a ball full of confusion that I can’t wait to get out of. Seeing people’s hurts and finding them resources is my job, but seeing my friends hurt and helping them smile is my passion. Finding the difference of the two is hard, but I know that one day I will find the way to be most efficient.