feeling unequal

8 06 2010

i had always wanted to work with this non-mainstream population. perhaps it has a lot to do with my study on ‘coming out’ in uni.

there’s a huge stigma attached to them and the illness they often battle alone.

now that i am actually working with them, i realize how tough and involving and draining it can be. the needs, the complexity, the load, the expectations, the stigma.

it makes me question all that i know and all that i have. it shakes my entire being.

questions about whether i am even cut out to be a social worker. questions about what the future holds for me to continue in this line for a while more. questions about my capacity to handle stress. questions about God. where is He in all this? it’s difficult to answer the last question now that i’ve left church. of course i know that God is not confined to a man-made institution, but a part of me wonders if things would be different if i were still in church.

would i find this work less of a struggle? i think not. maybe my question should be how to find God in this. maybe the need is to answer for myself why i am in this.

doing this work makes me realize how weak i really am. of course, i am also becoming stronger each day, it’s an up-and-down line with a very gradual upward trend.

all the struggle for the sake of becoming a more competent social worker. and yes, this is what i’m made for.


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

2 04 2010

Some quotes from the book.. in which Viktor Frankl shares about his experience in the Nazi concentration camp..

“It is one the of the basic tenets of logotherapy that man’s concern is not to gain pleasure or avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.”

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

There is meaning in life, despite suffering, despite difficulties. And having seen patients and their families suffer from the impact/progression of illness, I can attest to that. It pains to see how some patients’ lives rage with difficulty after difficulty. But it is also through all that that I come to realize how resilient many of them are. Many are able to tell me “I want to continue living”, “I don’t want to die so early”, “I want to see my children grow up”. There is always meaning to be made/found.

What a privileged job I have to be able to witness all that bravery!

I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t have a conclusion. But I’ll enjoy every moment of it! Thank you for being such a delightful presence in my life.

what hope looks like to me..

29 03 2010

hope, there's hope! (Sunrise in Kollam, India)

meanwhile, gotta work like crazy.

meanwhile, i think about the things i want to do.

before i turn 30, i want to climb a mountain in taiwan.

i want to trek at milford track. i want to learn diving. i want to visit sikkim, darjeeling and nepal. i want to work in taiwan/thailand/china. any of those places are good.

meanwhile, gotta step out and gain exposure.

it’s so upstream. but meanwhile i learn to hope.

what walking the talk now means.

21 03 2010

It means:

– doing research work, specifically data analysis, on weekends.

– reading up on advance care planning in my free time.

– reading up on HIV/AIDS in my free time.

– stepping out of my comfort zone to initiate things at work.

– running twice a week. must stay sane and healthy.

– being home early on at least one weekday.

– learning the basics.. which is more difficult due to the  steep learning curve which is expected in the initial stages.

– being able to speak up, intelligently, coherently and cogently when the need arises.

That does not include meeting up with friends and other personal commitments..etc.

I was inspired and motivated again to be serious in conscientiously working toward my goal.. goal of doing master’s.. after Social Workers’ Day. After hearing from my favourite professor again after 2 years, I sure feel energized!

I feel the need to brush up on my skills and knowledge, the need to do research, the need to read and be disciplined about it. Five years down the road, I don’t want to be a social worker with just practice wisdom and nothing more. I want to know what works, what doesn’t – based on research. I want to know how exactly what I’m doing is making/not making a difference. To me, that is being accountable to my patients and to my employer.

It all feels so daunting. I feel like I’m scaring myself with these goals. But then, when I look around me, I know they’re not impossible to achieve. 2 MSWs have gone to Oxford Uni to study Evidence-Based Practice.. another is going to the States to get her PhD. 1 whom I know personally is still actively doing public education, research etc all at the same time.

I just need to break those goals down into smaller, do-able steps/tasks. And I need to surround myself with brave, passionate people who will correct me and inspire me along the way.

Anyway, I was a brave girl this week. Attended a course on breaking bad news, I volunteered to role-play.. any social worker would know stepping out to role-play the role of a social worker is a challenging thing to do because it exposes your quality of work to the people observing you. I am glad I stepped out. I told myself that I won’t have the right to encourage my future supervisees to be bold if I don’t challenge myself to step out now. 🙂 That’s such a milestone for me because I feel like I’ve stayed far too long in my comfort zone. I feel like I’m getting ready to keep stepping out again!

Walk the talk, Chiam, walk the talk. I hope that this passion will only keep burning stronger with each new experience.


9 03 2010

a quarter of the year is almost gonna be over – can you believe it?


quarter-mark check:

– yea still running. 1-2 times per week.

– rollerblading – not started yet.

– research – still doing.. very slowly.. may start on another project soon. fingers crossed.

– read – yea still reading. read lots in india.

– regret it not – nope. no regrets – did some brave things. happy.

hmm… i feel like i should really get out and start doing more things.. like volunteer.. or maybe try out overseas volunteering. oh wait. i’m planning to adopt a child. 🙂 i want to work/study overseas in the near future. perhaps taiwan/states or somewhere. shall build on my current work first.

the possibilities are large!

woo it’s steep

12 02 2010

on a new and steep learning curve at work. it’s not all smooth, not a cosy job.

but i’m happy.

happy to learn new things. happy to connect. happy to work with passionate people.

grateful to have the privilege to listen and journey.

of course i get shouted at, of course i get intimidated, of course i sometimes feel like i am not up to it. but i guess that’s all part of the learning process. . learning to stay composed and not panic when i dont feel in control of things.

the yoga teacher in India says, “Facial muscles relax, and BE happy.”

still i will hope

30 09 2009

even though i may be disappointed eventually, still i will hope.

not because i am stubborn or have poor insight.

but because even if i am disappointed at the end, i need to know that i gave it my all.

and to be able to give it my all, i need to first have hope.

same for my patients, same for me.