I finish my placement in just three days.
My last day, is Monday.
In just three days I’ll have completed 14 weeks and 1 day of placement; that’s 500 hours; 67 days of waking at 6.30am, eating oats for breakfast, travelling for what should be a 15 minute drive that most often turned into a 35 minute drive (shoutout to that city traffic), so I could start work at 0800, sit in front of a computer, answer phone calls, make phone calls, write case notes and do outreach work until 1600 came around when I could be off the clock.
I’ve submitted 14 weeks of time sheets outlining every activity I’ve undertaken; seven journals that focused on theories, self-care and my professional development; completed three integration sessions; a mid-placement and end-of-placement evaluation where my supervisor, field educators and liaison officer studied me, my development on both a personal and professional level and my understanding of elements of social work like ethics and values, supervision and culturally responsive practice; I’ve submitted two essays each worth 50% and; finally, I’ve completed a statement of what I have learnt throughout these past few months.
I’m quite literally breathing a sigh of relief as these next few days roll around, and finally; finally; I will be able to wake up slowly, stay snug and warm in my winter trackies, drink a cup of tea as I enjoy my oats on the balcony, surrounded by my ever-growing garden.
I already have so much planned. A mini-trip away with my mum as she flies down to visit me next Tuesday. Volunteering more often with an organisation incredibly close to my heart. Volunteering in the Starlight Express Room; something I have yearned to do for years but never lived in a city that had such a room. Setting up camp at a handmade self-proclaimed “hippy” market next month to sell my creations; jewellery, dreamcatchers and sun catchers alike. Taking up a couple of psychology classes to finish up my psychology degree. Submitting my writing to different publications; you never know if you don’t put yourself out there.
I’ve already taken up Gardening. I am so excited to read more often. Journalling will become my escape once again. Painting will allow me to get my fingers dirty. I’m looking forward to walking further around my little suburb, exploring more of what it has to offer. I’ll be getting deeper into my yoga practice. Dancing more, by myself and with my friends. Taking every second as it comes, loving every moment as it happens, accepting every day, every feeling, for what it is.
Although I am excited for what is to come; I’m sombre about leaving behind what has been these past 14 weeks. Leaving behind my colleagues I have come to know; leaving behind my clients I have come to support, to work with, to be such a significant part of their lives. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Knowing that my life with this organisation is so suddenly ending, but the lives of those I have been supporting is still a radical reality; it’s their everyday life; it’s their normal. This is not my normal. This is an experience. This is an opportunity. It almost feels selfish, to use these people who are already so vulnerable, just to pass a semester of university.
Yet, it also feels sweet. I feel content as I move forward, onto greater things knowing I have impacted at least a few people’s lives in a positive way. I feel grateful knowing I have had the opportunity to learn such incredible and remarkable lessons about social work, about theories and frameworks, and essentially, about myself, through these people who, despite all they are experiencing, have allowed me into their homes, into their lives, so that I could have an opportunity to learn; so that I could have an opportunity to grow as a professional, as a human being, so that I am able to use these experiences and these stories to create a brighter, a more just and fair future for the most vulnerable, the most hurt, and importantly; the most resilient of all beings.
Have all lead up to this moment in time.
I knew I was going to grow as a professional; that was inevitable.
Yet somehow, as I grew as a professional, I was also able to grow personally.
I have grown more confident in not only my ability to link theory to practice; but also in my passion toward this field of work.
I have gained more knowledge about social work, about homelessness and about mental health; but I have also gained self-awareness.
I have developed an understanding of what it means to be a social worker; but I have also developed an understanding of how important my personal attributes of empathy, kindness and acceptance are within my practice.
Here’s to my first social work placement. It was terrifying, difficult, frustrating, it had me feeling tired and scared and angry and upset; but it was also hilarious, fun, a remarkable opportunity to discover and learn, it had me feeling excited and filled with love and joy.
I have discovered two things; that society can place some unfair and unjust stigmas on us as human beings, but in the same breath, despite these stigmas, we are so damn resilient. There’s no other way to explain it other than we have a fight within us that is more remarkable than anything I have come to recognise in us as a species.
I wonder what the next 500 will bring to me.