The primary reason why I came to Saudi Arabia was because of a job. Many of you who know me on Facebook and see the pictures of me traipsing around Riyadh and my compound may be wondering if that’s really the case, but it is true. I came here because I was offered a job that would provide an amazing opportunity to expand my career. What I didn’t expect I would get from this job was an expansion of my perspectives on work and career and how it affects my well-being.
Before I go in to what I mean by my changing perspectives I must preface this blog entry with some realities of the job I had back home. I worked as a speech-language pathologist in the school system and I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with. The support services office I worked out of was filled with supportive colleagues who knew the challenges that each of us faced with heavy caseloads and daunting tasks laid in front of us. The teachers and principals I worked with were welcoming and gracious and understanding. The assistants who helped me provide therapy to my ever-expanding caseload were hard working and dedicated to taking what they learned and applying it to the students’ therapy programs. Most importantly every one of these people I worked with were fun-loving, kind, and in many ways my friends. And then there were the students. Oh my amazing and oh so entertaining students, or “my kids” as I liked to call them. I had a lot of them to remember and get to know. Somehow I managed, and I’m so glad I did because these kids never ceased to make me smile and keep me aware of the importance to fill every possible moment with a sense of fun.
My job back home was wonderful in so many ways and there are many things that I miss about it. However, it challenged me in ways that I didn’t quite expect to be challenged when I first left school and began my career in the school system. I came out of my S-LP program wanting to take on the tough cases, learn everything I could about them, and create programs that were thorough and complete. But I soon came to realize that, with so many children needing my assistance, I felt guilty taking a bunch of time to develop programs for just one or two children. So, what happened as a result? I began doing what I could with the time and resources that I had. While this approach is typical of many S-LPs in both school settings and clinical settings, it doesn’t make it ideal. Unfortunately, it is a reality that we accept and move forward with. I must pause here and mention that one of the luxuries of my job in BC was that I had autonomy with how I designed my schedule and therapy programs. If I wanted to, I could have taken on those few cases here and there and put the majority of my energy into creating perfect therapy programs. For me, though, I couldn’t justify doing that. So, as a result, I ended up putting band-aids on therapy issues that needed full-on casts.
With the job I have now, I have the opportunity to actually apply the casts because I get to work with just one child. This luxury is beyond amazing and please note that I am well aware of how lucky I am. Words cannot express how grateful I am to the powers that be for giving me this opportunity. Even just typing those words fill me with such a sense of joy that I feel I could float away on a cloud of bliss. Working with one child is allowing me to concentrate on his issues. I have the time to learn about his needs and apply what I learn directly. I can try new therapy techniques and feel comfortable making mistakes in delivery because I can catch them right away and fix them without delay. I have the time to develop and create high-quality therapy programs and the materials that go along with them. I can collect oodles of data easily and efficiently. And to top it all off, the best part of this job is that I get to watch this little guy learn and develop skills bit by bit every hour of every day that I work with him.
As if these great circumstances for therapy aren’t enough, I’m feeling some awesome spin-offs as a professional. I am re-learning what it feels like to actually complete a project to a level and degree where I honestly feel I put all of my abilities and energy into making it just right. I am gaining a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt since I worked on projects in school. I forgot how important it is to be able to work hard at something and see it through to completion and know that I did my very best. I feel proud of myself for the work that I do with this little boy. And this motivates me to work even harder. I have a newfound energy that is directed towards my job and it’s allowing me to put extra hours in at work; to the point where I have to remind myself to lay off and rest. I love my job, but it’s for different reasons compared to why I loved my job in BC. I love my job here because I’m put in a position where I can prove to myself that I’m capable of providing optimal therapy and applying what I worked so hard (and spent so much money) to learn how to do. I’m in a position to personally recognize whole-heartedly that I am good at what I do and that I am a competent and professional S-LP. An added surprise for me in all of this is that I’m realizing that I can develop myself as an S-LP. I am gaining confidence that I didn’t know I was lacking and this is putting me in a position to feel I can branch out and do more in my profession. What this means exactly is a mystery for me at this point, but I’m happy to wait patiently and see where all of this flows.
I now recognize that there were aspects of my work-life that I didn’t know I was missing. I was happy back home, but not as happy as I could have been and working here in Riyadh has opened my eyes to this. I’m glad I worked in the school system and I feel that it taught me a lot. I’m also glad that I was given this opportunity to see my job as an S-LP from a different angle and to develop new and exciting career perspectives.