Thursday, September 14, 2006

Professional Identity

Greetings from a wet and yucky area of the Northeast!

Today has been rainy and quite unpleasant. But alas, I am in an office with extremely bright fluorescent lighting--it could be pitch black outside and we would never know it.

The topic today reflects my thoughts lately. I have been grappling with developing my professional identity and figuring out just what kind of professional I want to be. It's weird to think about this, since I still think it is hard to believe that I have a master's degree and license to do social work. What the hell was I thinking??

I think the most difficult part at times is that the majority of the time I feel very confident in what I do professionally. I carry myself very different when I am working than I do in my "real" life. Sometimes though, the "real" world eeeks in and I am left to talk myself through some tough things.

For instance. I am giving a presentation tonight to about 15 families who all have recently had children who were diagnosed with autism. I have planned this night and have set everything up the way I want it to be. I am basically facilitating this whole thing-which means I need to be in front of lots of people. This is where my self-esteem issues rear their ugly head and I get really nervous. I was up tossing and turning this morning from 3:00am-6:30am. I KNOW I can do this and have the information these people are coming to get, but of course I am worried no one will show up, no one will come BACK for the second part next week. I KNOW that if they don't come tonight and don't come back that it is not a reflection on my abilities. I know all that-I am just nervous.

I have been trying to talk myself through this and tell myself that I CAN do this and that this program will be a big help to families.

I feel like I am rambling and that this doesn't all make as much sense here as it did in my head.

The other thing that is weird for me at times is to be referred to as the "helper" professional and NOT the one who is being helped. It is hard at times to jump between the roles, and I feel that given my profession I should be more healthy with my own thoughts and feelings and lifestyle. When I have to interface with a psychologist or psychiatrist in my work, I get so worried they can see right through me and know all the other things I deal with.

I guess I also know the populations that I could not be ok working with right now. I work with those who have disabilities and their families. I cannot see myself working with eating disordered folks, or those who have been abused or who self-injure. I know those things are too close to home for me right now. Besides, I have no interest in that at this time.

So, I guess in closing, I am writing this all to just get out some nervous energy, but also to try and convince myself that I can be a professional social worker despite my issues and I can be good at what I do-and that is OK. It seems so grown up to think I have a real job and responsible for other people's well being.

I know tonight will go well. I know I have the skills to pull this all off and will be a great resource to families. It will be a great night!!

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