This is both a word of encouragement and warning.
I always ask people what they want to be when they grow up. I always say, “I am still working on that answer, so I think it is a fair question.” (This is true. I am still working on it. And it is a fair question.)
Psychologists and theologians argue over how much of our behavior is determined by genetics, or by our environment, or by free choice. No matter what the answer, it seems obvious that at some people seem to be sure that they need to go into a caring profession. It is not just about whether one “cares” or not. It is about building a working life around a profession that is all about caring.
I always love to have a “caring” person as a server in a restaurant. One time, after an Oklahoma Bandmasters Association board meeting in Oklahoma City, I literally asked the hostess of a restaurant for a server that was “studying to be a teacher, a shrink, or a doctor. Or nurse.” People who care are just going to be good at serving people.
Caring is part of the human experience. For the most part, sociopaths and some with various other issues excepted, people care. Some. But some care a lot. They are at the upper end of the scale.
This is for the those who are at the upper end of the caring scale. When you announce your career choice and give the fact that your “really care about people” many people will smile and nod and say nice things. But I think, “Someone should warn that person!” And if I know them well enough, I will.
So why is a professional encourager like me warning people about something as wonderful as “caring”?
I will tell you. It is because caring takes a lot out of you. It can be very stressful. When those you care about make bad choices and run into hard times, it hurts. Sometimes it will take you right through the valley of the shadow of death. There is a reason that the incidence of alcoholism and substance abuse is higher among those in the caring professions.
But wait. You should still care. And even enter the caring professions. A lifetime in a caring profession will shape you:
You will either go over the edge and into the abyss. Or you will become amazingly strong over time. Caring can become either a super power or kryptonite.
Be brave. Seek your super power. But know that the edge of the abyss may be closer than it appears. Care, but look out for number one. Take care of you.
In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure…… If you are traveling with a small child secure your mask and then secure the mask on the child. (More about this in another blog entry soon.) If you are going to give your life to caring for others you will still need to look out for number one at times. Surround yourself with people who care about YOU. Learn ways to recharge your batteries. It’s really pretty simple once you have the concept.
But it is not easy. It is a rewarding way to live if you are up for it.