I feel so awkward when people ask me why I’m in social work/mental healthcare, or why I do social justice activism. I feel like they expect some grand narrative about how I’m selflessly helping people despite how difficult and unpleasant it can be, because it’s just that important and I’m just that kindhearted and brave.
Actually, I chose this work because I enjoy it. Even when it’s not enjoyable right in the moment—although it often is—it’s enjoyable when you look at the bigger picture. Just like you may not necessarily enjoy debugging, but you enjoy the process of figuring out how to build what you want to build.
In my experience, the people who choose social work, therapy, and/or activism through purely “altruistic” motives even though they do not enjoy the work end up burning out fast, and sometimes hurting others. I think that there are more effective ways to feel like you matter and like you’re a good person than dedicating your entire life, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to something that actually makes you miserable.