This Work Is Hard

Originally written for my friends in WV, this is a shout out and high five to all those who work their butts off on the frontline.

This work is hard. Really hard. It can burn you out. Make you curse to the point where you make yourself blush. Lead you to question why you ever started down this road.

Units will get trashed. Landlords will be angry. Some people you are supporting will die. Needles will be found. Overdoses will happen. Every now and then you may be surprised to find something weird…a snake frozen in a freezer…a two gallon jug filled with urine…Simpson’s-themed porn…

Don’t give up, you wonderful helper, you. Don’t give up.

Rents will not always be paid on time and in full. Case management goals will not always be met. Some days will be spent jumping from crisis to crisis rather than doing proactive work. Every now and then you find what you think could be the poster-child for what success looks like (for today anyway).

Co-workers will engage in office politics. Case notes will need to be done. Data must be entered. A drop-off of donations will happen at the least best possible moment.

Don’t give up, you wonderful helper, you. Don’t give up.

You’ve told yourself to practice good self-care. You still have days, well, you don’t. An extra glass of wine here, a little intrusive imagery when trying to sleep there.

Program participants will complain. Community partners will complain. The general public will complain. Most days you will never serve enough people adequately in a way that keeps others happy. Or for every happy person there are several others who do not seem to be.

Don’t give up, you wonderful helper, you. Don’t give up.

You went into this work for a reason. Maybe you forgot why. Maybe the reason has changed. Find that reason. Hold that space. Breathe in. Breathe out.

You didn’t go into this because it was easy. Maybe you didn’t go into it because it was this hard. But you always knew this wouldn’t be easy. Our success will not be measured by how easy we made the work. It will be measured by what we achieved in difficulty.

Don’t give up, you wonderful helper, you. Don’t give up. You have epic shit to do.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.


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