On Studying

This is around the time that a new batch of students turn up at the universities to enter training. I am no expert but I have been considering the ‘now’ me, would give to the ‘then’ me as it is now 10 years (gulp) since I started my MA in Social Work.

image scui3asteveo at Flickr

1. Reflection. Initially you’ll find it hard and not really ‘get’ it. They talk about it a lot, particularly in the placements. But it is worth it. Reflect, reflect again, and then reflect on your reflection. You might not see it now but it will improve the way you work.

2. Self-advocacy and assertiveness. You will never be able to speak on behalf of others if you are not able to speak for yourself. This is not a place for shyness. Assertiveness is not the same as blurting out things. It needs to be measured with respect and should not overpower or denigrate anyone.

3. Do not be afraid of perceived power in others – lecturers, supervisors. Remember the feeling of authority that they have and transfer that – because that may well be the way you are perceived in the future.

4. Don’t be afraid of fear. It is a good check on some of the powers that you will use. But channel it and use it. Don’t let it control you.

5. Remember that every word, phrase, action, expression will not necessarily be interpreted the way that you intend. Good intentions are not enough.

6. If someone either in the university or the placement, advises you to do something that you are uncomfortable with, don’t back down, it won’t make you feel better. At least discuss your feelings, opinions and differences. Instinct can be a good guide but it should not be your only guide.

7. Study. Take advantage of the university resources. You won’t need to spend so much money on books if you use the library more effectively. And keep going with those Italian classes – they will be your conduit to all those dreams you’ve been storing up (OK, a bit me-specific – but I was so uncertain as to whether I should have been wasting crucial study time on language classes!).

8. In the words of Alexander Pope

‘Know then thyself, presume not God to scan

The proper study of mankind is man.’.

People will never fail to surprise and not all knowledge is garnered through books. Eclectic theoretical approaches will be your friend!

9. You only gain respect by giving it.

10.  You can change the world. Not necessarily everyone’s world. Not necessarily every day. But one step at a time, for individuals, you can change perceptions of the world. Changing one person’s view of the world is as if you have changed the world. Don’t stop hoping and dreaming.

11. Admit mistakes. Don’t ever try to cover them up. Especially if they affect other people. Covering things up is a long and slippery road.

12. Enjoy it!

What would you consider to be advice that you would give to yourself, 10 years ago?

5 thoughts on “On Studying

  1. I would have told myself the following ( and ten years ago is when I started the journey from freshman in college to LCSW):

    1. The letters you have at the end of your name in 10 years will not make the whole world see you as completely competent and qualified. In Social Work, experience is everything.

    2. You think you know what you want to do but you won’t really figure it out until you’ve tried some different work with different populations….and that’s OKAY.

    3. Dealing with your coworkers and supervisors will be more difficult than your interactions with clients.

    4. You will never get paid what your work is really worth but you will never find a more rewarding profession.

    5. Burn out is not a myth and you will feel it quicker than you think.

    6. One day, you will miss sitting in these classrooms having intelligent academic conversations.

    7. It does not matter what you score on your licensing exams as long as you pass.

    8. You know alot, but you don’t know everything young gun.

    9. The first time you really connect with your client and see positive things happen in their life it will feel better than any high ever could.

    10. One day you will meet yourself. Will you see what the moment is there to teach you?

  2. Thanks for that, IJ. I love your list. Particularly number 10. I’m now wondering how I’ll be in 10 years time (tired, I imagine!).

  3. Well I can’t answer your question at the end of this thread, but thanks for the post. I know not all of this is applicable to me but believe me after receiving my course materials from the Open Uni today I needed a little encouragement.

  4. Well, ten years ago I was 12, and just starting grade seven. I had NO idea in the world who I would be today, or where I would be, and definitely no idea I’d be lying here blogging with a cat kneading my side! Aside from the advice, take a pill and sleep till you’re 21 being a teenager sucks, I think these are some things I’d tell myself, I’ve been thinking about it all day.

    1. You are wonderful and special no matter what anyone tells you. Things are going to get hard, really hard, but you will get through it.

    2. Your parents really are looking out for your best interests. Some of their worries turn out to be really justified. On the other hand, be willing to assert yourself and back yourself up, some things you push for will help you grow.

    3. Read as much as you can, never forget how much you love reading, it’ll bring you back from the hard times.

    4. Get therapy sooner. Tell people how you really feel until someone believes you, listens, and finds you some real help. Don’t take no for an answer, you deserve better.

    5. Don’t be the victim of bullies. Stand up for yourself sooner, and be friends with the people who stand up for you.

    6. Hang on to your friendships. Don’t triangulate.

    7. Read the bible.

    8. Don’t get into it with “them”. Don’t stick that letter in the mail box, don’t cry at the table, and don’t tell “them” your secrets. Spare yourself that whole experience.

    9. Do your homework, and practice the clarinet. Yes, you can get by without it, but you could do so much more if you actually tried.

    10. Never forget you are special and loved. You turn into an amazing person, and your life does have a future. There will be people who love you, there will be people you can count on. There is hope. Never forget that. Ever.


  5. Good luck with that, Sister!
    and thanks for that, SD. There’s certainly a few there that I’d forgotten I knew! I love your 10 too 🙂

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