Much like those before me, I have decided to take a brief moment to share some of the things I have learned on my journey so far. I have always chosen different milestones than many around me. Mine are based on the personal relevance of the time-frame. My parents started treating me like an adult when I was around 16 years old and it was a bit jarring. They came to me, while I was doing my homework (nerd alert!), and gave me the freedom to make the big decisions. I still made several hundred mistakes in the next four years as I explored the world of young adulthood. That first moment of bestowed freedom and gave me the confidence to push the limits and really learn about world around me. However, previous guidance kept me out of anything too dangerous. When I returned home at age 20, after two years of living on a college campus, I had some stories to tell and some secrets to hide…(scandalous). A more adventurous person, like my sister, may have seen this as a step backwards. I understand how many people would think that, but it was a blessing in disguise. Even though I was still very much a college student with limited financial obligations, I was able to live with my parents as an adult.
This was a common occurrence with people in my age range. Even those with college degrees were living at home for years after graduation. This was at the end of the worst stage of the Great Recession of 2007/2008. While I was away for my first two years of college, the US economy, along with a good bit of the world, was in financial strain. Even more than 10 years later, everyone is pretty jumpy about another market collapse. I was so insulated during my college campus experience, I honestly had no idea. I didn’t learn the full scale of it until years later through conversations with my dad.
Once again, I was being treated like an adult by my parents, but at a whole new level that I had not seen before. They came to me for advice. They shared their dreams and fears with me. My dad started giving me books to read. My mom encouraged me to get involved at church again with the college Bible study.
I was successful in many things during those years, but passing my Elementary Education internship was not included on this list. I learned more in that eight weeks that I had in the year before. I was not ready. I cannot express the relief I had when I failed that internship. I was forcing myself into something I thought I wanted. I was sure that my personality and ability to teach would be enough. I was wrong and I could not have been happier about that fact. I got a full-time job until I decided what my new major might be.
My time at the warehouse really opened my eyes and realigned me to my “politically incorrect” center. After personally shipping more than 200 items per day, I finally understood how a package could arrive late. I never complained about a package not arriving on time ever again. The amount of work that goes into running a national warehouse was mind-blowing. This example was all human-run. No robots in this warehouse! The humans picked the orders, checked for accuracy, packed the orders, and loaded them on the truck. Everything had the human touch and I really liked that. I brought my real-life experience of exploring the world to a highly sheltered group of people and they grounded me in reality.
The job was an excellent tonic between college majors and future plans. It was also the first full-time job I worked, so it will have a special place in my memory. I even wrote two different poems about it and put them into my book. I even dedicated one of the poems to a youth kid at my church. While working at the warehouse, I had taken to being a volunteer youth minister for the local church. While being spiritually fed at my college bible study, I spread my knowledge of my Faith with young people. Over the next few years I went from volunteer to a paid primary co-leader.
We had a series of budget cuts at the church after a rather unscrupulous church leader, our pastor, was discovered moving money around to his benefit. As if that wasn’t enough to make everyone upset, he was later confronted about having an affair, unknown to his wife or two beautiful children. This part of the story is where the pastor denied the entire idea as a falsehood in front of the church and the leading governing body of the Faith. This affected each of us differently. I learned, for the second time, that church leaders are imperfect humans. I knew his children well as I also worked as a Sunday School teacher for over two years.
I would be told later that within a year of that denial, he had filed for divorce and married the woman he had the affair with originally. I can only hope this means the wife was later remarried and the kids had a more positive male role model introduced into their lives. I was that role model for the youth group through all this. I “carried” them through the rough years until we found a wonderful full-time youth minister to take over. By this point, I was ready for a new step in my working career and the next stage of life.
My travels into adulthood continued with a shock to my independent self: an office job. This was the structured corporate world that I had only heard about. I have thrived in this environment and have been with the same company for seven years. Working my way up through ranks and learning every day. I had an adjustment period where I briefly forgot I was not in the (comparatively) laid-back environment of a warehouse. I quickly found my footing and now channel my outbursts into productive ideas to improve the company as a whole.
During my off hours, I was reinventing myself. I was discovering who I wanted to be without the direct influence of my parents. I bought artwork to put on my walls and I moved furniture around the living room. I wrote new songs with my guitar and new poems with new-found vision. I even decided to gather my poems together and create a book. This was a labor of love and is one of my favorite things. I spent between 50 and 60 hours, spread over a month or so, to create that book. Every part of that was hand-crafted, designed, and formatted by me.
Speaking of books, I started reading more about how people think and feel. I read great novels about space travel and aliens on the moon. I listened to podcasts about real-life space exploration and the next self-driving car. It was an explosion of old and new interests. It was adding new layers to the ever-changing definition of “me”.
Considering all these great advances in my self-development, it seems odd that I was avoiding church, didn’t have friends outside of work, and avoided human interaction when possible. I decided it was time for change. I didn’t want to leave the company I had worked for, so I set out on my travels of 2018. I flew around the country to shadow, observe, interview, and explore the various departments and leaders of the company. (For further details on that, see my travel posts from last year.) After months of reflecting, praying, and narrowing down the choices, I decided that I wanted to take my customer service experience into the banking section of the company.
I made the bold personal choice to move to the great state of Illinois. A fresh start was in order after years of stagnant social growth and no promotional opportunities in my work location. I can only hope what I have learned about people, organizations, and myself will carry me through this next stage of life smoothly. Making my way around our small yellow star 30 times reminds me that I am small in the cosmic story. Spinning rapidly on this fragile Earth almost 11,000 times leaves me feeling confident and comfortable. I look forward to each new adventure.