“Do not seek to change what has come before. Seek to create that which has not.” –David Airey
Today marked 100 of work days left at my current position. I usually do a count down this time of year as I look toward my summer adventures but this year is bittersweet.
Starting two years ago when I knew that the job I have been doing since 2000 would most likely end, I began to give thought to where I wanted to go from here.
When I graduated from high school, I was going to be a graphic artist and go to art school because I had a passion for drawing and design. Somewhere along the way I decided that although art was a passion, it could also be a hobby while I pursued working with children (another passion) as a career. This change has served me well through my time both with the YMCA and Head Start.
I really want to justify staying in my current line of work. If we get the new grant there could be other positions I could take in order to stay here. I have been working with children for 23 years. It has so many things about it that make it attractive: the hours, the benefits, the work itself, and the consistency. But it doesn’t fit like it used to. I have changed. My goals have changed. I have added new passions over these 23 years that continue to call me to do and be something different.
My coworkers and I, some of us have been working here for more than 25 years. Some of them I have worked with for my whole time here. We have laughed, cried and loved together.
We can’t imagine doing anything else. This is where our identities are. Working with children and their families is more than a job; it is a manifestation of our principles. It is our very core. Moving on to a new job or career could mean changing our identities and how we define ourselves.
I may have to leave some things behind. Coworkers and the most amazing teamwork, both successes and failures, and a comfortable routine will be just a few of the causalities.
My history working with children may have to become something I carry along on the sidelines. I know it will always be a love I can apply for things like volunteering, but there is still an amazing sense of loss.
But only growth and potential lie ahead for me. There will also be successes and failures, elation and disappointment. Nothing is guaranteed. This is both exciting and scary stuff!
I am being given an opportunity to really assess who I am and where I am headed and who I would like to become. And I really feel, who God wants me to become. Am I being who He called me to be? What do I want to take with me into the future versus what would be better left behind?
It’s time to step out of that comfort zone.
Like continuing to wear an old pair of jeans that are no longer in style or no longer fit us, even when there is more memory than material left to them, we stay in places more for the comfort they provide, than to take a risk going out and trying something new that may fit us better and be our next favorite. Change is hard.
I have come to realize it’s less about what I have done in the past or what the future may hold, but who I really am. I’m not that same person that fit into the last 23 years so comfortably and who I want to become will have more room to grow in the future that I now get to create. A future I can create from scratch if I so desire. Change helps us assess both the change and ourselves. Who are we? Where are we going? Does it will truly bring us joy?
Long distance backpacking has helped me see that I can change what and who I think I am and I am always much more capable than I give myself credit for. I am sometimes tempted to resort back to that much smaller view of myself instead of being brave and embracing the person I know can be. The person I am called to be.
I can lean on my experiences in the wilderness, both the moments of self reliance, perseverance and my connections with others who share my passion, to remind me I am a strong person and I can weather anything. I have put myself through things that test me and it has brought me to another level of confidence and ability.
I hope to use this change to push myself to live a life I have been evolving to and not continue to let the comforting chains of the past and my fears keep me in a life I no longer fully identify with. How often are you presented with a chance to really look at whether or not you are heading where you are called to be or if you are resting safely in the comfort zone of a past that no longer truly fits you?