I really hate my job right now. It’s a feeling that’s been building for quite some time, but it’s particularly strong at the moment. Truly, I’d walk away from it tomorrow if I could. I am a psychologist and so it is my job to be present, to listen, to heal and to help people grow…. To read between the lines and to help them understand themselves better. Normally I enjoy this and feel privileged to do it, but as my own internal turmoil and pain grows it has become more and more difficult, neigh impossible. Every single day feels like an act, a great pretence. It is a huge problem and one I am going to have to face sooner rather than later. However, it’s not the subject of today’s blog.
This aspect of struggle aside, I increasingly hate my job from a values-based perspective. Whereas I once hoped to help people, and especially children, in distress, I now find myself helping parents and children to fit into very small, very well defined little boxes labelled ‘normal’ and ‘easy’. Parents and schools with unrealistic expectations of children, parents who don’t have the time or patience to deal with the normal ups and downs of childhood and parenthood… parents wanting easy solutions, a quick fix, value for money. I’ve become part of a consumer-based, convenience-driven culture and I hate it. Tonight, as I ranted at the dinner table to my husband, I likened this crazy dance of expectation to the following dialogue:
Parent: I would like to buy a unicorn please
Me: unicorns don’t exist, I’m afraid I can’t sell you a unicorn.
Parent: but I have lots and lots of money and I’m really desperate for a unicorn and you don’t know for sure that unicorns don’t exist so please please just see my child and try and figure out whether or not you can conjure up a unicorn
Me: unicorns don’t exist and I definitely won’t be able to conjure one up if I see your child, but just incase your child is actually in legitimate distress, I will see your child
Parent: Thank you
Me: All is well with your child, she is not in distress and is essentially well adjusted. Unfortunately unicorns don’t exist.
Parent: whhhaaaattttt???? But I paid X number of Rands for a unicorn and you haven’t given us one!
Arghhhhh, i just can’t. I don’t have a magic wand. Today I gave feedback to parents whose beautiful, perfect, well adjusted but infuriating four year old daughter doesn’t like the feel of too-short, long sleeve shirts. She’s four. I tried to read between the lines, to figure out whether or not this little symptom was part of a bigger problem. It’s not. Buy her the shirts she likes and give away the ones that are too short. It’s the first of many infuriating preferences that she will make in her life and these opinion won’t always match yours or be convenient or pleasing. Deal with it. Don’t expect freaking unicorns.