dear social worker

“Social success is growing into a person that other people can depend on.” ― Brené Brown

You, dear social worker, you are incredible. I do not know you, but I know this is true.

I know that you live a life dedicated to the service of others and that you bear witness to and hold space for those others even on your worst days. I know that you sometimes live this life at the expense of yourself. I know that you always live this life with humility and grace. Social work is more than your job, it is your lifestyle. Social work is more than what you do, it is who you are.

You, dear social worker, you are incredible.

I know that you enter into damaged lives, the remains of which are shattered by injustice, devastated by stigma and traumatized by inequality. The individuals and communities with whom you work are suspicious and distrustful. You know that they deserve to be, that you would be too if you found yourself in their position. And yet you ask them to trust you anyway. Somehow you create meaningful connections with those that need them the most and want them the least.

You, dear social worker, you are incredible.

I know that you have seen more tragedy than you ever thought you might. Maybe you have discovered a dead body, or two or three or more. Maybe you have witnessed a suicide attempt in progress. Maybe a child has been abused in your presence. Maybe it was an animal. It is quite possible that the reality of poverty is burned into the back of your eyelids so that you will never not see it. Your ears have heard the harrowing tales of refugees, the tragic narratives of foster children and the heartbreaking accounts of populations disenfranchised by race, class, gender and/or sexual orientation.

You, dear social worker, you are incredible.

I know that at times you wonder what else you might have done. The individuals in your social network seem to work and stress less, and earn more money than you do. But I also know that given the choice you would choose social work all over again. You cannot help but feel excitement for this profession. It is in your very essence.

You dear social worker, you are incredible.

I know that you often wonder if you make a difference in the lives of others. On days when you wonder this, know that you absolutely do. The differences you make are profound. You will never know their true impact. The world is a different and better place because of you. This is true even when all you do is show up for someone and nothing more.

You dear social worker, you are incredible.

Thank you for what you do, dear social worker. You help others understand their inherent strengths. You encourage others to grow and change and thrive using that which already exists within them. And you do all of this from a place of authentic concern, genuine care, and true passion.

You dear social worker, you are incredible.

5 thoughts on “dear social worker

  1. Thank you, I needed this today. I’ve been a social worker for more than 20 years. Most of the time I love what I do but there are days when I’m ready to quit, the days that I give my all and get nothing but ugliness back, those are the days when I’m ready to throw in the towel. But I don’t, something keeps me going. Kind words like this definitely help. Only those who do this work can truly understand what it’s like. I love your blog, keep up the good work!

    1. Jodi, I am a retired SW, retiring after 35 years in the field. It is career in which you can’t expect too much positive feedback. Be strong and KNOW that you are serving those who can’t help themselves, many who don’t or can’t appreciate what you are doing for them. When I was a young worker, a trainer said something that stuck with me about working with resistant (and often mandated) clients. She said, “Fly in the face of rejection.” It has helped me continue during some challenging times, and I have passed it on to many. I hope it helps you. Also, when feeling un or underappreciated, know that there is plenty of unspoken appreciation out there. I worked with children and families. Several months before my retirement, I got a call of thanks from a woman that was my teen client 18 years earlier. I share this only to show you that you just don’t know how many lives you have impacted in a positive way. Believe me, they are out there. I hope this helps you continue. We all need you.

  2. As a retired Social Worker with 47 years in the field, I am now doing Field Supervision for 2 social work students. They are bright, caring, loving, fun and funny young women who embody all my hopes for the furure of social work. I sent them this article and urged them to subscribe to your blog, Banshee. I just wish it had been around when I was a young social worker. You capture the essence of all the good, bad, and ugly of this crazy, beautiful, grossly undervalued (and underpaid!) job. Wish there were more of us, hate all those $ cuts to services, because we make the world better, we really do.

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