What started as a marshmallow-filled bonfire night at my friend’s house in New Jersey, turned into the greatest decision I made since going to Sydney, Australia for a few months. Hey. It’s been a while since I’ve written but I’m back. *insert Arnold impersonation [here]* I feel an obligation to share just how amazing of a summer I had and how life post-Sydney ended up being alright after all. This post is filled with life-shattering realizations and other casual stuff.
After a couple weeks home and the perpetual living-out-of-suitcases phase of my life seemed over, I got a job in California and it was time to pack it up all over again. “How” and “what” you may ask? “Well,” I will say. It started like this:
My friend participated in a high-school National Youth Leadership Conference through Lead America a few years ago that he said was both an amazing social and educational experience that changed his life thanks to his team leader. Interested in pursuing other career avenues besides my seasoned experience with the slave-I mean food industry, I decided to see if I could be that person that changes lives. Within ten minutes of hearing about his story, I was on their website (they had just merged with Envision) and applying as quickly as I could. I could not have spent another second serving pina coladas to creepy 60 year old men at a country club, weighing people’s salads, and wearing a yellow t-shirt serving hot dogs and hamburgers at a water park. That yellow t-shirt really put me over the edge. It was time for a change and this was it. Within a couple of days, I had applied, had an interview, and got hired. They were desperate and so was I.
After a 5 day training session at the University of Maryland–College Park, filled with excessive information, “interesting” coworkers (more on that later), and nights out in DC, we were in the airport and ready to fly to California. But not before a few minor airport crisis situations happen. Forget about me almost missing my flight, seeing my soon-to-be dapper dude-friend James throwing out all of his hangers for all the dapper clothes he brought, or watching my soon-to-be-bb Joe stressing about the fact that the airline didn’t have a ticket for him, what I’m really here to tell you is about this 40 year-old lawyer that was also on the program. The weight limit is 50 lbs. He had maybe around 52. While I’m over here figuring out how to distribute the weight of my luggage so I don’t have to pay fees, he’s over there throwing EVERYTHING out of his luggage, taking out 6 bath towels and 9 hand towels and pleading for Joe to take them in his suitcase, and just looking like an overall mess on the floor of this airport. BRUH, YOU WERE TWO POUNDS OVER. So many questions; like, why does one need 15 towels? How many pounds difference do you think 52 to 50 is? Why are you on your knees, distraught and hovering over your suitcase like it’s a family member’s casket?
I get to California. Three missed flights later and HE gets to California. He doesn’t last the whole summer and I can only imagine how his trip back home went.
Getting back to the point of this post…
I was scared beyond belief the first day. I was going to be a faculty advisor which meant I was in charge of 20-25 high-school scholars and teaching them about business. I’m a film major. I knew absolutely nothing about business prior to this summer. Why, you may ask, did I take a job where I’d be teaching students about business then? Well, it brought me completely out of my comfort zone, onto a plane, and living/working at Stanford University in California for a few months. So why not? I’ll learn and I did. The persistence and dedication that came from me during these sessions was something I never knew existed. I was so devoted to making sure these kids were having the best experience possible and I tried everyday to bring my A-game, even though I was sleeping about 5 hours a night and yelling at the Law program kids for 2 hours a night.
This wasn’t always easy. We ended up working 15-17 hour days with little time when a scholar wasn’t annoying you or you weren’t annoying a scholar. But you learned to love these teenagers and everything they had going for them. I had never acted as a teacher figure before but I felt this overwhelming desire to see nothing but good things happen to these kids. I wanted to change their lives in the best way possible and make sure that they felt more confident and knowledgable leaving this program. They were my family for that week, which felt like an eternity.
Now, the people I worked with. I was with the business team but there was also a law team sharing the space with us through the same program. They were classic, stuffy, stereotypical lawyers and we were a fun, charismatic, boisterous assortment of characters. Through all the set-backs, mishaps, and mistakes, our team helped each other out every step of the way and it truly made us feel like family. By the end of the summer, I had grown so close to these group of people that I didn’t know how I would ever do anything without them. We ate together, we laughed together, we even fell asleep in the same common room together! These people were my rocks, my best friends, and my family. Anything I wanted to do, wanted to say, or needed to laugh about, it was with them. Our days off felt weird without them and we’d always be thankful when work started up again so we could see each other once more. We sound truly dysfunctional written down. I will never forget those weeks with some of the FUNNIEST, smartest, and kindest people I’ve ever met. When I say funny, I mean that there were moments every single day of the summer where I couldn’t breathe. I probably should have seen a doctor to make sure I was still healthy, honestly.
I’m wrapping up this 20 page long dissertation, don’t worry.
Among the people who changed my life, the lives I changed, and the never-forgotten experiences I had, I wanted to leave you with some amazing advice from a speaker we had–Ranessa Boley Lane. This intelligent, funny, well-spoken woman rocked my world with these few tips and helped shape the conferences and lives of these students.
- Own your gifts
- Your gifts don’t become gifts until you get good at them. Pay attention to your passion and to what you hate. Follow your passion, that is where your heart is and that is where you’ll love life.
- Play courageously
- Show up for your dreams. Be ambitious. You may be scared out of your mind to try something new, something you love, or deviate from your comfort zone but do it anyway. Do it scared.
- Bring your A-game
- Life goes how it’s supposed to go. You can’t control the outcome so you might as well learn from it. Come to give. Remove judgment from people. The more you ask for advice, the more you’ll grow. Don’t be afraid to speak up, make your presence known, and display your confidence.