As I approach my 7th year in the social service sector, I feel like I have aged in a manner largely congruent to my self-development. I should state that working in this sector saps your physical as much as your mental energy. Depending on your perspective, you may think of yourself in relation to the community that you serve, as one borne out of a helping, assisting, facilitating, providing, caring, safeguarding, or allyship role–amongst many others.
I liken it to the analogy of a matchstick.
We are all matchsticks. Some sticks are long, others short. They burn at different rates. Some matchsticks burn fast and last days, weeks, or months. Others carry on lighting their surroundings for years on end, weathering storms and incredible gusts of wind.
Some matchsticks find themselves placed in a box of many other sticks and candles. Other matchsticks find themselves kept in a drawer away from others.
Matchsticks once struck, carry on burning until they are snuffed out forever. Some sticks get put out by fellow sticks. Others get puffed out through no act of their own. Some candles steal the flames of sticks; some sticks do the same for others like themselves.
Some matchsticks even strike themselves alight but fizzle out immediately. Others keep trying to set their heads on fire to no avail. Many matchsticks however, successfully keep their flames on.
Some matchsticks barely shorten as they light others. Some matchsticks burn out as they set only a few candles alight.
Many matchsticks exist to light fellow sticks and candles. Some exist on their own. Some burn bright and light up entire stadiums. Others flicker and barely light up a bedroom.
Matchsticks light others like themselves and candles. Other sticks set things ablaze with little regard. Some matchsticks exist to burn the bodies of other sticks, while some burn the wrong ends of other matchsticks.
Some matchsticks burn bright and have lit many candles. Others burn with the intensity of a thousand matchsticks while leaving surrounding candles unlit.
Some matchsticks have not struck themselves alight. Others have only begun their journey. Some are burning out. Others have fizzled.
Some candles will resist your light. Not all need flames after all.
To all matchsticks, control your flames. At times, it can be difficult to tell which candles need lighting up if you are in the wrong matchbox. Not everyone can be a matchstick even while some just burn for its own sake. For those who realise their purpose, these matchsticks tend to burn a unique colour.
What colour is your flame?