So, I don’t know if this will help, but I’m one of those people who can get really caught up in the trappings of achievement and success and worrying about making a good impression and being financially stable and all of that. I drive myself nuts with it sometimes. I also worry a great deal about the world’s evils, and as a social work student I’m pretty much learning more and more about them every day and there is so much suffering it can be really overwhelming.
Well, it’s been one of those times where the pressure has really been on–lots of school assignments due, huge time commitments, and all these questions about where I’m going in life and whether or not I will succeed at changing the world.
I recently started working at an internship at a nursing and rehabilitation facility, and my supervisor went on vacation and left me with all this stuff to do. One of my jobs was to collect some basic demographic/background info on a new admission as well as administer a mini-mental state exam. Pretty straightforward, but I had never done this before, I was really nervous about doing it ‘‘right.’’
But I sat down with this elderly man, who was wheelchair-bound, and just started asking him questions about himself. And his whole demeanor changed, he was just so happy to have someone to talk to. And then the nurse brought us both ice cream sundaes and I just took down the information and put on his glasses for him when he had to sign some paperwork (his hand was in a cast.) But I wasn’t just asking him questions, you know, I was getting to know him and he told me he’d been so lonely and he was so grateful for the visit.
Like, it’s the smallest little thing, eating ice cream with some guy and helping him put on his glasses, but it made my whole day because he made it clear that I made his whole day. In that moment all that other stuff just seemed like it didn’t matter as much. Like I can write 50 research papers and ace all my classes and none of it would really touch the level of satisfaction I achieved in that moment.
I think if we can look in our lives for opportunities to create these moments where we touch other people, even if it’s just a little thing, we’re all going to be okay.