Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Career path...

The Starfish StoryOriginal Story by: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. 
Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?"
The youth replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don't throw them back, they'll die."
"Son," the man said, "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!"
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the
man, he said "I made a difference for that one."

And this my friends (Mark, I will get to your topic of friends vs. acquaintances in another post), is the crux of my problem. 

I work in a field where we like to think we make a difference for one or more children along the way.  I think that I make life easier for others on my team by my "middle child" talents of bridging gaps between departments and personalities, I have no doubt that I do my job well and have a good understanding of the system within which I work, but I also know that this job is sucking the life out of me.  In the face of so much ugliness (neglect and emotional abuse is so prevalent and so much harder to do anything about), I am not convinced that I/we are making a difference often enough for me to tip my internal balances toward the positive.  It seems to me that I could put up with the hard work if I truly believed the outcome will result in a worthy goal.  But too much of my job now is beating my head against certain political walls...fighting for the "right" outcomes in certain ridiculous situations, when the best interests of the child(ren) involved are being patently ignored. 

Believing that good can come from walking through the fire, or plodding through the tough times, I have continued the good fight.  It has been a slog for about two years now.  My tolerance for bullshit is at an all-time low and my belief that the system will work in the long run is tapped.  I dislike coming to work at all, and I constantly fight my internal voice that "it just doesn't matter".  I am burned out and I truly believe I need to walk away.  But to walk away implies to walk toward something else and I can't do one without at least a plan for the other...and that spells s t u c k. 


  1. I've heard that starfish story before and love love love it. It is so true. We can't make a difference in everyone's lives. But we CAN and SHOULD make a difference in someone's life . . as often as possible! Thank you for the reminder :)

  2. There is so much here, Sarah. My heart goes out to you in your job dilemma. I worked in the middle school, but I never got deflated by students, only adults. I would still be in the classroom today, if not for the dynamics of after-school life. But to be s t u c k. Ouch city. Keep us "posted," so we can provide moral (and written) support.


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