Thursday, June 30, 2011

Put on a Happy Face

I’m not an optimist by nature. I pretend to be, and I make a conscious effort to come to work in a good mood and look on the bright side and make the best of whatever drama happens and to enjoy my day at the clinic. If I didn’t force myself to be the cheeriest possible version of Desembarazarme, I don’t think I could do my job quite as well. I often carry off that rosy façade so well that my co-workers get annoyed with me.

All of my co-workers are passionate, client-driven super (s)heroes, but honestly, they’re not always Pollyannas about everything. They don’t have to be, of course. I understand what it’s like to inhabit a head that tells you that what can go wrong will and that the grass IS greener in some other clinic and to get wrapped up in thoughts like, “Why won’t that client just make eye contact with me for once?”, “Would it kill [redacted co-worker’s name] to pitch in a little more?!”, or, “I would love to hit those protesters with my car.”

However, what I’ve noticed as I work more on the management side of things at the clinic, is that Dr. Tiller was right once again: “Attitude is everything.” Clients aren’t dumb; they will pick up on a morose mood, and they supply enough of that on their own. Clinic staff is usually there because they love the work, not because of the paychecks, and if we focus on anything other than the reason that we come into the clinic every morning, it really serves no one but maybe the antis, and that’s no good.

I can only speak for my clinic, of course. This is the only clinic I’ve ever worked at, but I have a feeling it’s one of the more all-round woman-centered, nurturing ones. The missions statement practically says, “We will love and support each other and clients and do it with a smile.” Other clinics might be a little bit less “Free to be You and Me,” more “We’re here to do abortions. Mission statement done!” But regardless, I can’t see the dynamics of a clinic truly working out if the staff isn’t, on some level, friends, family, and co-workers all at once; if clients weren’t treated as one of us; or if a job description didn’t include “fostering a sense of community.”

Readers, what kind of relationship dynamics have been at play in clinics or support organizations where you’ve worked? Am I wrong? …Can there be a completely functional, feminist clinic without an emphasis on positivity? And how do YOU stay positive even when you don’t want to? (I work out a lot. A LOT.)

1 comment:

  1. I have only been volunteering as a support advocate for a short time but our clinic seems very supportive of one another. If someone needs a break, someone is always willing to step in. We don't all like all the tasks that need to be done so of course we gravitate toward our strengths but nothing is left undone. The patients are all treated with kindness, with empathy. I can imagine being in a clinic that offers this service and being able to be unkind, it makes no sense to me. Staff members and volunteers have made friends with each other, had dinner together, gathered their kids to play together. This is emotional work for all of us and we have to trust that we have each others backs.


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