For those who don’t know, I am the Program Director of a social service agency that serves low-income senior citizens in a housing community within Queens, New York (NYC-area). On a daily basis, I am surrounded by seniors who have raised their children, who have fought in our wars, who have spent 50+ years working, and all of whom have a small enough income to qualify for housing assistance.
Of course, I have my beliefs about that situation as a whole (which I’m sure most of you echo), but the question of this post is focused on the difficulties in drawing the line between work and self.
Although I live on a social worker’s salary (and have a social worker’s amount of student loan debt), I have chosen to live a life that sacrifices in some areas (roommates vs. living alone, for example). This allows me to have a bit of extra money sometimes. While I work as hard for my money as the next person, and while I fully believe in the freedom to spend as the earner so chooses, I sometimes feel guilty for spending on luxuries when I know how little my clients have. In some ways, it’s a wonderful encouragement; helping me to remain focused on contributing regularly to my retirement and savings accounts in hopes of procuring a more financially lucrative future for myself when I become a senior. In other ways though, I struggle with finding the line between nurturing myself in ways I have earned and feeling a sense of remorse when spending money on items I don’t really need.
Am I alone in this? If not, how do you all combat this juxtaposition?
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The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.
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