photo by brittsims Late last year I announced on Facebook that I had landed my "dream" job. If I were to be brutally honest when I got the position I was arrogant enough to think the job would somehow allow me to change the world...
I have now been working at said job for a month and although it has many of the elements I personally find "dreamy", there are definitely days wherein my job has all of the characteristics of a full-fledged nightmare.
I work in the field of addiction counseling, specifically with adolescents. My primary role is to educate our clients (ages 14-17) on different aspects of drugs, their use, and potential consequences. In addition, we work on processing emotions such as anger and anxiety, as well as life skills like coping mechanisms and problem solving. That all sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
The problem lies in the fact that the kids I work with do not think they have a drug problem, they don't have any fear of what might happen to them when they continue to use drugs, and as far as having any goals for their future (other than obtaining the next "high") they just don't exist.
This reality can be um....frustrating. And sometimes discouraging.
Many of these kids come from homes where the parents are heavy drug/alcohol users so they have witnessed situations no child should. These kids basic needs have been neglected, and the child is taking after the parent in terms of aspiring to block out any negative emotion and working towards any real purpose in life. It is a vicious cycle.
Some of these kids come from homes where the parents do care, they are concerned and they willingly seek treatment for their child. Usually the issue in this circumstance is the kid doesn't see any problem, except that the parent cares too much.
I honestly don't know what I expected when I began to work with kids in treatment, but I do know I have shifted my overall vision of what success looks like in counseling adolescents.
Of course, above all else, my main objective is to help these kids care enough about themselves to stay clean and sober. Hand in hand with that goes my desire to have them understand they are worthwhile individuals who can set (and achieve) goals for themselves. On top of that, my desire is for these kids to know they are not defined by their family history or circumstances.
I will admit there are days when I just want to hug each and every foul-mouthed, disrespectful, hurt, abused soul that is in my path. But it would do little to change the damage which has taken place in their young lives.
I hope to [someday] be a voice in their head that says, "You don't have to go down this road anymore, you are worthy of more from this life."
I cannot undo or change the lifestyle and struggles these kids face. I cannot worry about them when I am not literally in the same room with them. As long as I show up for them and I am willing to listen, to educate, and to mentor what a healthy, contributing adult looks like, the rest is in God's hands. "Saving the world" is not my job.
I am ashamed to think, going in, I felt I had that kind of authority.
If nothing else, this job solidifies my resolve to bring attention to parents as to how important their words and behavior are to their child's overall well-being.
The number one reason kids tell me they do drugs (most of whom began by the age of 11) is because "they want to escape reality." Second most stated reason, "I am bored."
GOD PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR WORLD WHEN ALL THE NEXT GENERATION WANTS TO DO IS ESCAPE IT?!