This blog post is a little hard for me to write. I’ve been putting it off for days, trying to process the thoughts in my own terms, but I may as well do it online. I’ll get straight to it. I withdrew from placement last Thursday under recommendation from my two supervisors, the university liaison officer, and the university placement coordinator.
It hit me so hard. I really did think I was doing well. I had learned so much about myself, made a huge change in attitude, was mostly enjoying the work and doing it with a larger degree of success than I’d ever experienced previously in the human services field. By my standards, I was doing better than I’d ever done before.
Yet my supervisors didn’t feel the same way. By their standards, I was not coping. They observed that I had huge levels of anxiety before interacting with clients. That I was resistant to taking their advice and learning from them. That I received constructive criticism very poorly. That I had underdeveloped social skills. That I just wasn’t able to meet the demands of being placed at Royal Perth, and that they didn’t have the time and resources to help me develop.
At the time, I essentially burst into tears at the shock. I’d gone into that meeting with the four of them thinking that a poor supervisions session was being blown way out of proportion. My supervisors had arranged the meeting (with my permission) so that they could explain their concerns to the uni, which they had concealed from me. It felt a little bit deceptive, but I understand they had their reasons, and it is too late to wonder if I should have argued my point further and not allowed myself to withdraw. As it happened, emotional and overwhelmed, I trusted that the four of them wanted what was best for me and that they all believed withdrawing would be the best thing to do. I meekly complied, un-enrolling from the unit and agreeing to meet with the uni team next week to see if I was ready for another placement this same semester.
By the time I got home, I had forgotten all the reasons why I had agreed to withdraw. All I could remember was that from my experiences in Centrelink and at PICYS, I was doing amazingly well at Royal Perth. I’d learned so so much, come so ridiculously far since that first placement, that I had never been more successfully capable in my life. And every day I was continuing to grow, being exposed to new attitudes, new skills, new experiences. In the three short weeks I had been at RPH, I had transformed into a more-or-less comfortable full-time employee who worked with Aboriginal, elderly and dying people, as well as a host of doctors and other medical staff. Those were some amazing learning experiences, and rather than letting me continue to grow in them, I was withdrawn at the advice of others.
I am a little upset about it, but not that upset. In truth, I understand most of the reasons my supervisors had, and I understand why the uni supported their opinions. I thought I was doing amazing, but the truth is, I have so far to go. It’s made me realise how anxious I really am, and how that’s not normal, not even functional some of the time, and I want to do more about that than I have been doing. I want to be more confident (something I will probably only gain from working with people and doing things that require responsibility, which I will not avoid but embrace). I want to learn how to take criticism better, and to stop being so self-righteous and egotistical: I’m not the only opinion that matters (another blog post on that soon to come). I have so much personal growth to do, and I thought I had already done it. Although I am much steadier than I was when I took my leave of absence, I’m still not quite steady enough for social work, it seems.
Regardless of what happens from here, I’m going to continue trying to be a better person. A healthier person. I’m going to start seeing a psychologist, continue meditating and philosophising, maybe start volunteering. But most of all, I’m going to try and secure another placement in the very near future so that I can get a second opinion from another supervisor who might not consider me unready.