Guest Blogger: Jamie Keaton Jones
Every Labor Day, it’s always the same – I see my teacher friends returning tanned and refreshed from their summer vacations. And every fall, it makes me question, yet again, why I am a social worker.
It’s perhaps normal to forget one’s original reason for going into this line of work. I’m not talking about burnout, but of taking a harder look at your career choice. I have a hunch that many others in the field occasionally feel this way. And especially when you see friends receive signing bonuses that equal a social worker’s yearly salary. (And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not bitter).
But when work seems particularly overwhelming, you can find inspiration outside of your job. When I least suspect it, I will stumble across a moment, experience, book, or movie, where I will say to myself, “yes, this is why I do what I do.” And I smile about it, and draw the inspiration I need to take on the next challenge.
Reading the book, The Soloist, was one such reminder. It’s not only an inspirational story, but also a reminder of the important work we do, and the pivotal role we play in our community and in the lives of those who need us most.
Recently, I saw the movie Even the Rain on a whim at the Angelika Theater. I was pleasantly surprised by the themes of activism, human rights, and awareness. I walked away feeling a jolt of adrenaline and a desire to volunteer abroad.
Since becoming a social worker, I cannot look at art the same way. A retrospective museum exhibit that provides the life story of a famous artist becomes even more intimately revealing when seen with the analytic eye. The Museum of Modern Art’s current de Kooning: A Retrospective exhibit is one example of many. I walk away from such exhibits deeply enriched thanks to the enhanced perspective social work training has given me.
No matter what your personal reasons were for going into this field originally, there is a wealth of ideas and inspiration constantly brewing outside of our work. Especially in a place like New York City.
And no salary bonus can trump the feeling of actually being in the world and contributing to making it a slightly nicer place, no matter how small.
What do you find inspiring when you are not at work? Please leave your comments below.
Jamie Keaton Jones currently sees clients at the Washington Square Institute.