on social justice & personal responsibility.

Most people are on the world, not in it — John Muir

For the past few years, I’ve preached this whole personal responsibility thing…and I think I may have taken it too far.

Let’s explore.

I guess the recent realization is that maybe I’m reaching too far.

…Clouds, is this a sad-I’m-giving-up-let-the-pessimism-kick-in post?

Oh, gosh no. C’mon, you know me better than that! This is more of a I-will-change-the-world-buuut-will-kindly-step-around-those-who-don’t-want-changing kind of post.

So here’s the thing: while I am definitely sticking to the being responsible for me thing (personal responsibility at it’s finest, ya’ll), I’ve learned that that does not necessarily mean that everyone else holds the same idea….and cue shattering of idealistic view of people:: womp womp wooomp.

Or, in a less dramatic fashion: being responsible for me doesn’t necessarily mean I have to be responsible for you. Or that responsibility to create change extends to helping people that don’t want change…and I’m learning that a lot of people don’t want change.

so what happened, Clouds?

Well, I left my comfort zone, moved far away from all that was known, and stepped into living a life that was my own, alone yet surrounded. What resulted was chaos and realization.

Chaos in the sense that transition ain’t easy, folks. I learned that with change comes stumbles (“stumbles” read as “trip and fall flat on your face in front of others while attempting to tell yourself you got your shit together” type stumble). Chaos in the sense that my insecurities were laid right in front of me, unavoidable and inescapable. Chaos in the clashes I’ve faced with “superiors” who seem to put business before people, self before others, progress in place of validation — which I’m kind of sort of pretty much working against. I still hold on to the hope that I caught those people at times that were out of character for them, that somewhere within them they continue to hold onto the ideals that led them to helping others in the first people: that they believe people are worth helping. maybe they’re jaded. maybe they’ve had one too many clients that weren’t ready for change. maybe they’ve had more counter transference than they could were ready to handle. Whatever the case, I will hold on to the hope that they still mean well.

And realization, Clouds?

Well, realization that after each fall, there was (and will continue to be) a rise. Realization that I can do it alone (surrounded in spirit by those who love and support me from afar). Realized that, whatever the reason people have for choosing themselves over others (in the helping profession sense), I can neither make them change their approach to others in the limited time that I am here nor is it necessarily my responsibility to do so. At some point, I have to protect myself  …needless to say, lesson learned but I hated the learning. It left me feeling sad…and praying that I don’t become jaded to the importance of the struggle of others, no matter the context.

A more important realization had is that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I no longer doubt that I am meant to do what I am doing. and I’m good at it! Not to be dramatic, but I’m kind of changing lives over here. Do I have more to learn? of course! Is my confidence where it should be? God, no.  but I don’t for a second doubt that I am meant to help others. Learning that I feel I am here to help others by literally helping others is kind of amazing. …I really can’t complain…it’s a pretty priceless realization that came early in life.

So, recap: social justice, change the world, stand up for others? yes, yes, yes!
…but, not at a personal cost.

butterflies and pebbles...

[side note: this is pretty much how I feel about my work; nevermind that it’s meant to be a love song…don’t judge me, friends]

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2 Comments

  1. I feel like I had this exact feeling (or something similar) a couple of times during internship and maybe once a week my first three months of postdoc. Whatever you do, don’t give up on your gift. I had a moment last week when I felt truly confident, and it didn’t come from my supervisor telling me I “got it right,” it came from a student smiling from ear to ear with her mom sitting next to her as they planned how her transition back home will be after being hospitalized. They came up with ideas about how to motivate her to take her meds, they planned workouts together, the mother cried and shared her fears, the daughter reassured her mother but spoke honestly about her fears as well. Success doesn’t always look the way we think it should. Hang in there. I believe in you. (HUG)

    1. (HUG) thank you for that amiga. It’s definitely been more difficult than I imagined at times but the rewarding moments of witnessing change and growth in others keeps outweighing the doubts 🙂

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