Decisions, Dilemmas, and Disappointments

Otherwise entitled: Why Bobbi is No Longer a Social Work Student

I never saw it coming.

Not when I was five, and I wanted to be a ballerina/builder/princess. Not when I was 10, and went through my forensic scientist phrase. Not when I was 13, and determined that my future was in novel writing. Not in a million years, did I see this one coming.

When I walked out of the Gebauer building in mid-October, I felt myself bursting with anticipation – but all I could think was that I would have lost the farm on any bet that one day, I would be adding Russian Language and Culture as a major in college.

Until last Fall, my limited knowledge of Russia included 1) Vodka, 2) Sputnik, and 3) That you could see it from Alaska.

By October, I couldn’t imagine not learning about it.

So, I added it as a second major. But I never saw it coming.

**********

Picking a major wasn’t a hard choice for me. When I applied to UT, after having spent several years battling my increasingly more severe OCD, and then working, I knew what I wanted to do. Or at least, I thought I did. I applied to the School of Liberal Arts for Psychology, and to the School of Social Work. My therapist is a social worker, and I knew that I could do what I wanted to do with that degree – but I wanted to do psychology. That was the program I wanted to get into.

Psychology didn’t take me. I’m not surprised now that I know how their program works. It’s in such high demand, the GPA requirement to transfer in is through the roof. And I was applying as a homeschooler, with no class rank and transcripts that I created in Microsoft Word for the ONLY purpose of turning them in to UT.

Social Work, however, did accept me. So I went to Orientation with one goal in mind: Find out How to Get Into Psychology. Quickly.

And then, a wonderful woman – the Assistant Dean of Social Work, in fact – came to speak to us. And she convinced me to stay.

I threw myself into it. I really did – anyone who knows me will tell you that I do something either all the way or not at all. And I have a lot of great things to say about Social Work as a profession. I love its holistic nature. I love the flexibility of the degree. Social Workers are extraordinary people. And I worked hard at seeing myself as one of them. I wrote a post about it on my blog for UT. I committed myself to being the best darn Social Worker I could be.

And in the mean time, I was already doing work in the field. Facilitating groups. Working on conferences. Working in whatever way I could with the populations that I was most interested in helping. Which, when it really came down to it, was what it was about for me. I’ve survived an awful lot, and I thought that going into a helping profession was a way that I could make it all mean something.

But I’ve slowly, very slowly, come to realize that going into a career to mitigate the circumstances of my own life isn’t necessarily the best idea. It might be, if I had the passion for the work that I tried so desperately to find. But sitting in the Social Work classes, I more often than not found myself bored.

I wanted to do clinical work. The undergrad program focused almost entirely on communities and policy. I have friends – some amazing Social Work students – who love that stuff. I, unfortunately, don’t. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t lying when I said that I was proud to be a part of such an amazing school. The staff in Social Work are fabulous. They teach well. They do GOOD work. It has been a privilege to be taught by some of the finest instructors in the country, in a school that is nationally ranked for its Social Work program. I’ve been given opportunities through this school that I wouldn’t have otherwise been given. But ultimately, I don’t know that it’s the right place for me.

And so, over the past few months, I’ve thought long and hard about why I was in the program. About how I didn’t really want to be in the program initially. About how I was bored in the classes, but making As in them because I found them easy.

Over the past few months, I have worked in the field, in several capacities. And I’ve loved the work – and I will continue to do the work that I do, make no mistake – but after only a short time, I found myself near burnout. Giving so much of myself to the job that I had nothing left for myself. Unable to spend time doing the things that I really loved to do. My anxiety and OCD came back in full force, combined with a depression that I thought I’d never shake.

Especially after the shooting this semester. That horrible event, for everything that it did, gave me some perspective.

I skipped class for days following it. But I kept going to Russian. And somehow, in the midst of the sicknesses and anxiety and work, I always found time to do the Russian homework, because when I was working with the language, I was happy.

In October, I added it as a second major. As I said above, it blew my mind. And everyone told me I was crazy for doing it.

Just like everyone tells me now that I’m crazy for deciding to drop Social Work as an undergraduate program.

How could I? They all ask me. And the answer is simple.

I don’t love it.

**********

For me, life has always been about discovering. College shouldn’t be any different. I was dropped into a class dealing with Russian Vampires almost completely by chance, and in that class, I found a passion that I never knew I had. I’ve spent my free time studying the culture and the language. Every day, I got up and looked forward to my Russian language classes. When I found out that they were offering Old Church Slavonic in Spring 2012, I was nearly giddy.

Language is what I love to do.

It’s why, when I was homeschooling (unschooling), I taught myself Spanish. It’s why I so enjoyed my Communication Sciences class. It’s why I spend hours reading about word origins and the history of language, and phonics and grammar – why I’m often called a grammar Nazi, and why, when Monkey Boy was born, I bought him Spanish Language board books and tried to speak to him in Spanish as much as possible.

I light up when I’m doing this work.

So it only makes sense that, at least for now, it’s the work I do. I’m keeping Russian, and dropping Social Work, in favor of either Linguistics, Foreign Language Education, or Comparative Literature. I don’t know what yet. But I do know that I feel absolutely right about this decision.

And I know that it’s okay for me to make it, and to give myself permission to do what makes me happy. Some people will be disappointed, but I think that might be okay. It’s my life – and I don’t know yet what it means for my future, but I have a few things in mind.

They say that Yale has an AMAZING doctoral program in Language. I hear Harvard and Columbia aren’t bad either.

In the mean time, if you need to find me, I’ll probably be holed up in the corner of my bedroom translating a Russian text. Or maybe facilitating a support group. Or preparing to stage The Vagina Monologues next semester with my leadership group. Doing something that makes me happy – No apologies.

*Bobs

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One Comment to “Decisions, Dilemmas, and Disappointments”

  1. Life is short.
    Do what you love.
    Thats the only way to live life

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