I love change. I love exploring, finding something new, opening myself up to possibilities, and welcoming the next steps in life. My entire adult life can be summed up in being open to change: after all I started going to school for baking and pastry arts and now I’m a social worker. Nothing keeps my attention long, I frequently find myself wondering what happens next and waiting for something new.
This waiting brings with it a certain uncertainty; a blurriness when I imagine my future; fear of the unknown. For someone who loves change, I find it hard to deal with it until I get a grasp of what it means. I often get a sense that I’m on the edge of chaos: on one hand I’m striving for control and order in my life, and on the other hand I’m always looking for change. The two concepts are polar opposites, and yet I think they work well together. Change is inevitable and if I can understand that, I think I can control my discomfort with it.
I see my embrace of change in my career path. I left high school convinced I was going to be a baker who owned their own shop. My dissatisfaction with that path led me to an English and World Lit major, which led me to a job as a journalist and doing quality assurance. From there, I knew I needed something that was more interactive, so on to event planning for Disney. That taught me I needed to give back, which led me to social work. Even in this job, my responsibilities change and grow and what I was doing 5 years ago has changed drastically today. The only constant since graduating high school is that I knew what I didn’t want to do. Yet, everything I have done in my past 16 years has helped me to make my next decision. And everything I have done has been used in my current job. I’m grateful for my willingness to embrace change, because without it I would be stuck doing a job I hate, in a life that didn’t make me happy.
So my successful career path should be enough for me to embrace change right? Look at how well it worked out for me! Yet, I still get nervous when I think about the next step, the next unknown, the next adventure. When that nervousness takes hold, I reflect back on times that I have controlled the path of change. Most recently, I take solace in seeing how the unknown played out when I was dean of senior high camp. For many years we have been discussing how our camp space doesn’t feel open and welcoming for all our campers. The adults have recognized that our predominately white selves can’t meet all the needs of our campers of color. The leadership has also recognized that we were sorely lacking in programming to help create the beloved community. So the deans and the camping ministries director made it our mission to change that. We implemented an anti-racism workshop and left adult spaces unfilled for as long as we could to try and make space for adults of color. I didn’t know what to expect with implementing this change. I did know that we needed safe spaces for people to talk, we needed educated adults, and we needed to be open to hearing what else was lacking. We made mistakes. We upset some of our white campers. We changed hearts and minds. We have a lot of work still left to do. I often think about how we laid the groundwork for this change, but had no idea where it would take camp. We trusted the process, even though we couldn’t see the end result yet.
So when I think about the question the board is exploring this year: “what possibilities exist when we challenge our hearts and minds to grow” I find myself intrigued with how I can use it in my life and how I already have. I see how my past has helped open my heart to the possibilities for my future. I am excited about what will happen when I allow my mind to grow past what it already knows, to embrace my chaotic thinking and see where it takes me. To leap into the unknown and recognize that I have laid the groundwork to land on two feet, even if I don’t know what ground I’m landing on.