My new job is…challenging. I’ve been there for 2 months, and I’ve had many moments (even hours at a time) when I questioned what I was thinking when I even considered working in the mental health field let alone accepting this particular position. I am brimming with self-doubt and insecurity about whether I’m suited to work with people who have similar issues to my own. Despite this, I am constantly grateful to be given the opportunity, delighted at what I get to do, and genuinely like the clients I’m working with. One of them accuses us of just working for a paycheck and not caring, but I truly do care.
What has been carrying me through is the amazing support I’ve received from coworkers. Not a single one of them will tell me I’ve horribly screwed up, instead referring to mistakes as a learning process. I’m a thousand times harder on myself than they are on me. Multiple people in the field have commented on my position being particularly difficult.
I appreciate that I’ve been able to be open with coworkers about how I am struggling and give them the opportunity to share their experience and knowledge. This week I worked evenings for the first time instead of my usual night shift, which required significantly more interaction with clients. I made 7 shopping trips within 19 work hours, teaching clients to choose a balanced diet, compare prices and shop within a budget, use self-checkouts, and other skills needed in order to successfully shop on their own.
This evening my supervisor, Tilly, let me see some of her own weaknesses. She told me a story of a…learning process she had when she first started. She also told me that she doesn’t like the grocery shopping appointments and that I had taken some of the most difficult clients to shop with and done it successfully. This was precisely the conversation I needed to have tonight. It’s one thing for people to say that the job is difficult or that they don’t always make the best choices, but quite different to hear concrete examples.
I still didn’t do everything “right” on these shopping trips. I had clients criticizing my driving since I’m still not used to the company van, and one client had to teach me how to cash a check at the bank drive-through as I’ve always gone inside for all my banking business. However, I felt a huge boost of confidence upon learning that these shopping trips weren’t expected to be easy and that I handled them well.
Despite the positive experiences, I’m more than happy to be returning to night shift next week. Being constantly bombarded by clients and their needs and wants for an entire shift was draining and left me wanting to crawl under the desk and hide.