I’ve been keeping something from you. There is a part of who I am that I don’t talk about often. My closest friends probably couldn’t tell you the nitty gritty details of this part of me, and yet this is what most of my energy goes towards every single week of my life for the past 13 1/2 years.
I have a full time job guys. It’s not blogging. It’s not even writing. Health Coaching is part time work. My full time job is not volunteering for the city of Charlotte or with the girls I mentor. And it’s not working for my husband.
I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t felt the need to tell you this before today and there’s a part of me that’s a little uncomfortable to share this part of me with you. But I was challenged to share this and I want you to know me. I will always get behind being real, so here goes:
I have been in countless conversations (I’m not exaggerating- truly countless) with people over the years that assume I’m a stay at home wife. If they know I blog or wrote a book, this is the only part of my life they know about. If I help out at an event for my husband’s company, they believe I work for his company for income. In the last two weeks it has come up twice. My response to most people who don’t know my worklife is: “Wellll……….I wear a few hats.”
My social media presence has been primarily about the other hats I wear- volunteering, author life, speaking, workshops, family, my Panamanian culture, and lately it’s been about my new kitten, Arya. The fact that people don’t know how I spend 40 to 50 hours a week is on me. This is my attempt to show you all of me. After all, if you’re reading this post you know the other parts of my life.
Sharing pieces of my full time job is significantly out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I probably couldn’t tell you about most of what I do. My world is all about HIPAA protection, confidentiality regulations, investigations, internal company reports, company initiative tracking, accreditation requirements, quality improvement projects, complaints, clinical rules, and policies and procedures.
I lead the Quality Management department and accreditation team for a company that supports over 700 medicaid recipients in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health field that employs over 900 people in the great state of North Carolina.
And yet when I list out the hats I wear, I simply say: “……and I’m in social work.”
I work in social work with some badass people every day. This field is hard work.
Most of us would probably agree that we do the work every day to fight the good fight. We don’t do it for the recognition. We don’t toot our own horns. We don’t do it for the money. We do it for the people.
We come in every morning to an inbox full of emails and the dreaded red blinking voicemail light. We check our emails, voicemails, look at our appointments and meetings for the day, and do the best we can to juggle our tasks and new fires that get thrown our way. We advocate in the best interest of the service recipient, supervise staff, collaborate, bicker at one another, brainstorm, and argue all while your girlfriends are texting you. They want to get together for lunch because we’re overdue and need to catch up. You make a mental note to look at your calendar later and get back to them while thanking your friend for initiating the text because you really want to see them.
You attempt to dwindle down the emails amidst the multi task management shuffle only to realize it’s nearly impossible to reach zero unread emails. As you’re working through them, the new email bubble alert system pops up on the bottom right hand corner of your screen. You find a moment in between tasks to use the restroom while processing your response to a funding source question or problem. Your family group text is dinging. You look down to make sure everyone is okay and tell yourself you’ll respond to them later.
You keep up with state regulations. Your extension line is ringing. Someone shows up unexpectedly at your office door, but your 3pm appointment also just arrived. You think to yourself: Have I even had water today? You tell your 3pm drop in that you can talk to them but only for about three minutes because you have to tend to your appointment. You call the front desk staff to let them know you’ll be up to greet your visitor in just a few minutes. Your hair that was once neatly groomed at 8am is now in a messy bun pinned up with the last pen on your desk. You see the fly aways at a quick glimpse of yourself on the reflection of your glass office door. This is the least of your worries.
You look down at your “To Do” list for the day and laugh to yourself because the list is now longer and nothing has been crossed off. Where have all my pens gone? Seriously, where the hell are all my pens? Your coworker comes into your office to vent about another co-worker. It’s fifteen minutes before you’re scheduled to leave for the day. You return the call that you missed the second you stepped away from your desk to greet your visitor. They answer your call. It’s someone crying about their present crisis. You remain composed, neutral and attentive. You think about checking in on your other coworker who just got back from vacation. You make a mental note to ask to see their vacation pictures. Maybe you’ll have more time to check in on them tomorrow? A new urgent email popped up. There’s been a serious allegation made. It’s time to stop everything you’re doing and gather the team to continue to fight the good fight. The quarterly report is due tomorrow. You think: I’m hungry, have I not eaten today? You dig in your trusted snack drawer for something to hold you over until your next meal.
If you’re anything like me, some days you make a silent agreement with yourself. It goes something like this: I’ll leave once I get through these three things I really need to do today. Other days when you’ve worked all you can work for the day, you log off the server and walk away leaving the papers on your desk as they are. They’re slightly crooked which any day would be a type A personality disturbance. Not today. Today the papers are fine how they are. I’ll be fresher in the morning.
I don’t talk about work. My husband and I made a pact years ago to not talk about work at home. Most days, we ask each other “Is there anything significant you want to say about your day?” We say the bullet points, if any, and then we carry onward. We implemented this back when work was a serious stress factor. Leaving work at work has been how I have been able to manage work life balance most days and been able to start with a clean slate every day.
I make a conscious effort to not share my full time work-life with my partner over the years, and somehow managed to unintentionally keep it away from all of you.
I’m proud to work for a female owned organization with mostly women (and some men) who are fearless, tireless, inspiring, and smart who get up every day to do this very hard work with little recognition. We even get cursed out sometimes.
And on my worst, most challenging day, it doesn’t take away from the pride and gratitude for the immense experience and privilege it is to work with people day in and day out.
Thanks for reading as always. I’ll work on sharing more of this part of my life (only the parts I can talk about of course).
As we wrap up this month of May and Mental Health Awareness month, may you remember that every month is Mental Health Awareness month.