Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Reason I Love (and Hate) My Job

There’s a little good and bad in almost everything, and my job is no exception. As the Community Mobilization Coordinator for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, my job duties cover a wide range of activities from training and presentations to planning events. My favorite part of the job is advising the Youth Action Board – a team of about 13, ages 14-20, who is committed to decreasing teen birth rates in Spartanburg County. Separate from my job, I also work with youth in my church, primarily 10th and 11th grade young ladies. I love working with teens because they are passionate, energetic, creative, optimistic (usually ☺), excited, overwhelming, slightly selfish, definitely challenging whirlwinds of noise and movement. While there isn’t enough money in the world for me to go back and do my teen years over again, to spend time with young people at a stage in my life when I’m okay with being me and not overly eager to impress is pretty cool. I’m able to be genuine, and they respond well to that.

So while I love spending time being a part of the lives of young people, there are times when I also hate it. Sometimes I hate how they stretch me – pushing me to be better today than I was yesterday because they so desperately need to be around adults who walk their walk, talk their talk, and live with integrity. I hate how quickly their pain becomes my own – when they are abused or mistreated or broken-hearted. While I want so much just to promise them that things will get better, that this feeling will pass, that those bullies won’t matter to them in the years to come, I know that for them every minute of every day feels like a mountain to climb. They just need me to listen – not advise. I hate how I sometimes go home and cry because I see the pain in their eyes, their heads hung in unnecessary shame with hair hanging down to hide whatever mix of emotions they’re feeling, but I can’t fix things for them or make it all go away. I hate how needy they can be and how demanding at times because they know I am the adult they can trust – who will be there. I hate how easily they can be torn down and how much it means to them for me to deliver one word of praise. I hate how they can’t see how incredible they are – how much they have to offer the world from their heads and from their hearts. I hate how easily they allow someone else to make them feel worthless when they are clearly worthy of so much. I hate how life experiences beyond their control – often things adults have done to or around them – have caused them to live outside the margins where it’s easier to just shrink away than to fight to make things better.

Ironically, the things I hate most about my job are the things that make me good at my job.  In fact, they are things that make me a better human being. Just when I think I’ve emptied my proverbial cup working with young people, I find it to be overflowing because they’ve poured so much more into me. In the process of encouraging them, I have been encouraged. Because when I am most vulnerable, when I am giving 100% of myself, when I am fully invested in the lives of others – that is when I am truly able to make a difference. So even when it’s hard, I will continue to be there for our youth because they need me. They need you, too.

by Dana Becker, Community Mobilization Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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