By D\’atra Franklin PPPP Last night I cried for what seemed like forever. I cried for all the times I was misunderstood. For the times I was left alone. For all the times I was hurt. I cried because I was so different from my friends. P Being different made me feel alone, and maybe if I could be more like them, I could be happy. P But how could I make myself like everybody else and still be true to me? It was so confusing. P Why wouldnt my tears cease to fall from my bloodshot eyes? PPPP From the time I was seven and I lost my mother, I felt different. I felt like my being on this earth was for a reason and that I was destined to do something great with my life. I did not fit in with my family. P I spoke different, and I thought different. P I had goals that no one could fathom. How stupid that a child would dream of saving the world, a world that she had not yet even experienced. P But that would all change on my 14
birthday. PPPP I was abused emotionally, mentally, and physically at the hands of people who were supposed to guide me in the right direction, love me unconditionally, and help me to reach my goals, encourage, and never neglect me. Instead, I was emotionally abandoned. My childhood was taken from me. I was made to clean, cook, and take care of my infant sister and brother. I wasnt a child learning to live; I was a slave with no worth in my own home. I had to leave, and I thought that any place on earth was better than living with my father and stepmother. Whether it was homeless or in a shelter, I knew I deserved to be treated better. PPPP When I was fourteen, I ran away from home. I didnt have anywhere to go, and I didnt know what I was going to do, but one last strike of my stepmother\’s hand drove me into the streets of West Palm Beach, and the streets were no place for a fourteen-year-old girl.
P But I didnt care, and I fled that hellhole so the voice inside of me, crying out for something better, wouldnt die. PPPP I lived with extended family members and a few friends until I found a shelter that would take me in. I lived in that shelter on and off for three years. It was home. I felt loved there. I made friends, and I even got a job. However, school was suffering, and I had to start anew and focus on school. When I was seventeen, I went into a more stable group home environment and lived there until I was eighteen. I was so happy there I actually got to celebrate Christmas, something other kids took for granted, but to me it was new and amazing. I was finally in a stable living environment. PPPP And here I am now, at a job that I love in the social work field, where Ive been asked many times; Why do you want to be a social worker? The answer is quite simple. I want to be a social worker because I have a passion and need to help people. P My passion stems from years of abuse and neglect. P My need comes from knowing that changing the world starts with helping one person and being able to empathize with them. I have been in their shoes. I want to be a social worker because it feels right. I enjoy seeing the smiles on kids\’ faces when they get to see their parents or family members who they havent seen in weeks, months, and even years. Those smiles are what make my pain and sad experiences tolerable. PPPP I can say that being a social worker was never in my plans.
I wanted to be a high school history teacher, and I thought I could change the world by sparking the love of learning in children, making history come alive. P But then I took a job in the social work field, and I instantly knew that this is what I was meant to do. This is what makes me different. All over the world, there is and will always be abuse. Thats the reality of it, but here I am working toward changing a childs reality one day at a time, changing my knowledge one class at a time, and changing my life one step at a time. It all starts with me, and while I may not be able to save the entire world, I saved myself and by saving myself, I will be able to save others. D\’atra Franklin\’s mother died when she was a young child, requiring her to take care of herself from an early age. She moved from relative to relative and friend to friend, which forced her to become self-sufficient to survive and eventually go into foster care as a teen. She aged out of care and became independent. She then enrolled in college, graduated with her associate\’s degree, and went on to Florida Atlantic University to earn her bachelor\’s degree. She loves to write, read, and dance. Ask a social worker for the reason they chose the social work profession and the standard answer is I want to help people. P I think this is the expected answer. P This is what the person asking wants to hear because it validates their impression of social workers and social work. P Social workers are soft, bleeding hearts, want to save the world types. P Their impression is read on their faces and in their tone as they respond, Oh, well, that must be very rewarding. P Then the subject changes.
None of us would dare say we went into social work to make money. P That statement would probably send listeners into a fit of hysterical, belly laughter. P As a matter of fact, we would probably start laughing before finishing the sentence. P No one, however, would laugh if a doctor or lawyer made that statement. I think that many of us chose social work because of the good feeling that we get when we help someone. P There are other reasons, as well, based on our skills, abilities and interests. P Some chose the profession because of strong problem solving abilities. P Others chose the profession because of exceptional analytical skills. P Still others chose social work because of their proficiencies in verbal and written communication. Do our skills have a positive influence on others? P Yes! P Does our collective ability create a powerful force in the community around us? P Absolutely! What would happen if our response to the question was answered more definitively? P We would educate the public regarding the skillset, the complexity and the extensive nature of the work and of the social work profession. P We could also transform opinions regarding the assets contained within the profession. P Here are a few examples of answers to the big question. P Statements directly related to our skillset need to be a part of our daily conversations. I get to use my planning, managing and organizing skills I want to make lots of money. (Especially true for social workers who are entrepreneurial minded) Why did you choose social work? P I would love to hear from you, post your answers on Twitter, on our Facebook fan page or join the.