I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the past 30 minutes, wondering how to start this. I’m usually pretty good at expressing myself through words, but this time it feels different. I’m scared to be honest, to lay my soul bare for all to see. But here goes nothing.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a youth worker. I was that kid who always wanted to help others, even if it meant putting my own needs on the back burner. It’s just who I am – I can’t help it. But as much as I love my job, and as proud as I am to call myself a youth worker, I can’t help but admit that it’s taking a toll on me. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh. Youth work is a tough gig.” Trust me, I knew what I was getting into. I’ve always been prepared for the long hours, the emotional labor, and the stress that comes with the job. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how it would slowly chip away at my very core, leaving me feeling like a shell of my former self.
I guess I should back up a bit and explain what I mean. I’ve been a youth worker for nearly a decade now, and during that time, I’ve seen it all. I’ve worked with children who have been through unimaginable trauma, families torn apart by addiction, and individuals who simply need a hand-up in life. I’ve also seen the resilience and strength that people possess, even in the darkest of times. And that’s what keeps me going, day in and day out.
But there’s a flip side to all of this. The truth is, I’m tired. I’m so damn tired. I’m tired of the constant pressure to do more with less. I’m tired of the seemingly endless caseloads, the paperwork, the meetings, and the deadlines. I’m tired of feeling like I’m never doing enough like I’m constantly failing my clients in some way.
And I’m tired of the guilt. Oh, the guilt. It’s a heavy burden to bear, knowing that you can’t possibly help everyone who needs it and that some of your clients will slip through the cracks, no matter how hard you try. I lie awake at night, replaying the day’s events in my head, wondering if I could have done something differently and if I could have somehow prevented a tragedy.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m also tired of the emotional toll that this job takes on me.
I’ve always prided myself on being empathetic and compassionate, and that’s a huge part of what drew me to youth work in the first place. But lately, I’ve found myself feeling numb, detached from my own emotions, as if I’ve built up a wall to protect myself from the pain that I witness every day.
I know that self-care is important, and believe me, I try. I meditate, I exercise, and I spend time with loved ones. But it often feels like I’m just going through the motions like I’m too exhausted to truly enjoy anything anymore.
I don’t want to come across as ungrateful or whiny. I know how lucky I am to have a job that I’m passionate about, and I know that there are countless people out there who would give anything for the opportunities that I’ve had. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a breaking point, a moment when I’ll finally have to admit that I can’t do this anymore.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker by day and a superhero by night, Ashley Campbell uses a pen name to express her alter-ego. She shares her home with her husband, two kids, two dogs, and a bunch of Funko Pop figures and books that are waiting for her attention.
Article Courtesy: mysocialworknews.com