For those of you who do not know much about social work, or what it takes to get there, let me share with you. To get your BSW (that’s bachelors in social work), it takes the average person about four years and 400 hours of field work, and in some cases, more. I am the more. My university is unique, because it requires 600 hours, and because of that, I am fortunate to have two internships.
200 extra hours.
200 extra chances to make mistakes and learn from them
200 extra opportunities to decide what path I will choose to work in
200 extra chances to decide if I even want social work
Today I finished my first internship, and I have learned a lot. Through the past four months, I have learned the importance of a healthy work environment, and I have finally understood what it really means to advocate for yourself as an employee. I have seen a system in the midst of crisis and I have seen a system that is continuously growing and working up to its true potential. Oh, and I learned what it is like to work with adolescents who are in the system. From them I have learned and remembered one thing. It is hard to be young.
It is hard to be young, because you don’t choose your family, and family is everything whether people like it or not. Your family decides whether to spend their money on food and new clothes for you when you’re young, or whether to go run the streets and spend it on some dope. Your family sets the rules and decides whether or not you should be allowed to move in with your abusive boyfriend at the age of 17, knowing that he will be beating you constantly. Your family decides whether or not to support you when you are locked up, on house arrest, in a placement, strung out on drugs or dripping in your own blood. Your family is a factor.
It is hard to be young, because you don’t really know what love feels like, and what it means to be in love. It is so easy to be charmed by someone’s words, thinking that you will be with them for the rest of your life, only to find yourself thrown away a week later, or trying to cover up that black eye he gave you for looking too pretty or talking back.
It’s hard to be young, because society seems to hate you, thinks you’re a lost generation, and the odds are just stacked against you. The youth is a growing generation, and although we all have different stories, we all know what it is like to be young, wild and alone.