Was chatting recently with a woman who works for Group Home X. She said that she finds that people coming out of DSW programs are too idealistic and have no idea how things "really are."
She has worked in developmental services for many years and said that it's very hard to secure full-time employment; mostly it's cobbling full-time hours from a series of part-time jobs. I'm OK with that, but am feeling discouraged by her attitude.
I found her to be a bit condescending, actually, when I explained some of the concepts we're learning, especially about helping people live their best lives. She claims that the reality is that most of the people she supports have no capacity/the wherewithal to even know that their lives could be any different and that I'd do well to "let go of my Pollyanna ideas." I gently tried to persuade her otherwise, but gave up as soon as her eyes glazed over.
I am still bothered by the exchange this morning.
I guess I'm looking for the right words to use in these situations - how to gracefully assert that there most certainly is another way to support people, without coming across as condescending myself. And I suppose I'm looking for reassurance myself, that I will indeed have the confidence/tools to truly make a positive difference for people, in the face of this kind of complacency.
In the overall, it makes me more determined than ever to remember and absorb all that we are learning, which feels good. And right. But...there is a niggling sense that I will muck it up, somehow.
I know that my absolute responsibility is toward those I support - in many ways, this feels a lot like coming up against different parenting styles and following my own heart regarding the ways in which I parent my own kids, despite the opinions and influences of others. Despite my overall confidence, I worry daily that I will, in the end, muck it all up.
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Is this something that you struggle/d with, when you actively support/ed people? Feeling a bit like you're up against it? How do/did you remain steadfast on a day-to-day basis? And how did/do you guard against feeling discouraged by the prevalent attitudes of those around you?
I am hoping (hopeful) that more time absorbing all that we're being taught will help strengthen my resolve (much like time to become confident in my parenting skills...erm, most of the time)
It's all well and good for me to express shock and dismay and indignance about the ways in which people with disabilities are treated, here from the comfort of my comparatively charmed life, but it's not enough. Every day, it seems, I read another article/story/anecdote about the horrible ways in which society's most vulnerable are treated. In fact, I'm finding that these stories are piling up at an alarming rate. Not sure if it's that because society is becoming more aware or it's just that *I* am, but the truth remains the same: things must change.
I know that I must be part of that change as so many, many things in life have led me to this point, this place, this knowing and I feel compelled to do this work. But still, I worry that I too will -eventually -become complacent and de-sensitized.
I hate feeling this way. Hate feeling that I will do the wrong thing, muck it all up, fail at such an important task...even before I've tried.
Is this normal? Please, tell me that this concern - this fear - is normal and not some deeply-rooted personality flaw.