The Day I Kicked Discouragement’s Ass

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Today was AMAZING. And to think I had to start the day with a pep talk from Todd because I was feeling discouraged. My awesome day kicked discouragement’s ass.

I was not dreading the actual items on my To-Do list today, I was just dreading the amount of energy I knew it would take for me to complete all of the items. I was actually looking forward to each individual item, I just wish I hadn’t scheduled them all for the same day, an oversight on my part (this is why I do not agree to plans or meetings without my schedule in front of me) but one that was not correctable so I had to buckle down and prepare myself for an exhausting day.

Good news though, it only got better. As I checked each item off my list the day got better and better.

The first thing on my schedule for the day was my volunteer shift at Hospice. I start my shift around 8:15, I like to arrive early to settle in and get caught up on any changes from the week before. A half hour into my shift the director of bereavement walked over looking for me, she needed help on some things that are backlogged for them so I agreed to help. It took my entire shift but I completed the task for her and apparently took a sizable burden off her shoulders, I hadn’t realized how behind they had gotten. Half way through my shift my main contact at the bereavement center walked over and we talked for a bit. Apparently the bereavement department has a colleague out for an undetermined amount of time and the intern who has been working there is finished as of this Friday. They need help. I offered to start coming on Wednesdays to assist in anyway I can, they immediately took me up on the offer. Next Wednesday I will go through training and when I am done I will be responsible for making the 1 year follow up bereavement phone calls. I am excited for the new opportunity to learn and grow.

My shift ended at 1 and I went straight into a meeting with one of the Hospice social workers. I mentioned recently how I made a connection with this social worker while working one of my volunteer shifts and in doing so we agreed to meet and talk today so as to get to know one another better. As I did not know her role in the organization I just saw this as another opportunity to network and looked forward to speaking with her. When I got into our meeting today I realized this was maybe a bit more than networking.

The social worker mentioned when we first started talking a few weeks ago that she had been wanting to meet me and learn more about me, I didn’t think anything of those comments because I had been wanting to meet her and get to know her as well as a contact for the future possibly. Apparently she a supervisor at Hospice and she supervises teams of social workers who work in the field (as well as those who work in the IPU I think). Anyway, she is a bit higher up on the ladder than I realized and she explained that she had been hearing good things about me and had taken notice of me. Wow. People are talking about me. That was something for me to take in. I guess it makes sense but I had never thought about it.

She complimented me multiple times on my attitude and professionalism. She said I seemed very wise for my age and how impressed she was by me. And we even talked about me possibly having a future with Hospice when I finish school completely. I walked out of that meeting feeling stunned and elated. I had no idea I had made such an impression at Hospice, I am so thankful for that. I also had no idea that she even knew who I was or was keeping tabs on my work with the company. It was a very validating 45 minutes and I am overjoyed that it came about in the first place. It goes back to what I was saying about organic networking, good things happen when you allow things to happen naturally.

So after my meeting with the social worker I had to scramble out of there and over to campus where I had a meeting with a classmate and a professor to discuss next steps in the community work my classmate and I are doing together. My classmate and I met last week at the cafe located on the hospital property near my house to discuss what we think our next steps should be, today was just to bring our professor up to speed and get much needed expert advice about our plan of attack.

We were relieved to discover that all the suggestions the professor had for us about next steps were exactly what we had discussed together last week. We are clearly on the right path (thank goodness). While in our professor’s office the head of the entire social work program at UCF walked by and our professor brought her in to introduce us. Our professor explained why we were meeting and the work we planned to do along with explaining what work we had already done. The director then asked to e provided with a copy of our original paper for her review and so she can give us notes for our continued work. We (my classmate and I) were thrilled and also a bit terrified. Thrilled because WOW, Yes please! Terrified because someone really important wants to critique our work, do we really think this paper is up to par? The plan is to revise the document one last time to make sure we are not going to embarrass ourselves sharing it with her and then meet with her to drop it off and discuss everything. How exciting!!

As the meeting continued after the directors departure our professor started talking to us about the possibility of publishing our findings down the road. I think we both looked at her like deer in the headlights. Publish? Scary. Again I started thinking will anything we come back with be good enough to publish? Our professor stopped us in our self-deprecating tracks though. She not only thinks we should consider publishing our work and findings but that we both need to be thinking seriously about doctoral degrees. That was a holy shit moment for me.

A lot of the things that were discussed today in my multiple meetings were not even on my radar. Working for Hospice in the future, publishing my work, becoming a doctoral student. I am just sitting here in undergrad trying to make the grade and make a difference. And I am doing both of those things rather well I guess. The idea that there is more though and I am capable of it frightens and excites the hell out of me. If you had told me two years ago when I was entering back into college that I would be here now doing these things, standing on the precipice of something that could be bigger than my dreams even initially allowed.. I wouldn’t know what to say accept Wow, I never knew what I was capable of.

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