Transitions are tough. In fact, I’d even put them under the label “the worst.” No matter the circumstances, leaving one circumstance and starting over, for me, is bittersweet. With less than 3 weeks left in my year of service as a Young Adult Volunteer, it is tough to not think about my current state of transition. There is a part of me that feels like I arrived to Chicago only yesterday. But also…it feels like a lifetime since I was at Stony Point.
Personally, I have been in a state of transition since May 2015. The spring of my senior year at NC State, I honestly thought I had everything figured out. And then the first rejection letter came, and then another, and then another until finally I stopped sending resumes to the dream jobs. I worked 3 part-time jobs I didn’t particularly enjoy, I moved back home (thankfully my parents are too good for me and let me come back home for a bit), and for the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan. End Transition 1.
Transition 2: Thanks Navy
Around December of 2015 my dear, sweet, big brother got an apartment in Honolulu; signed a lease, and was set to leave for a 6 month deployment at the end of January, leaving all his stuff in this newly acquired, uninhabited dwelling place. We talked, and somehow it came up that if I could get there, then I would have a place to stay for 6 months. So a week after my 23rd birthday, I packed my things, got on a plane, and relocated to Oahu. I found a job lifeguarding at a YMCA, made friends and was living my best life (with the understanding that this relocation was completely temporary).
Transition 3: Hawaii
Not even a week after my relocation to the island, I got the email I had been waiting for. I had been selected to serve as a Young Adult Volunteer in Chicago. I was simultaneously excited and terrified. I had just moved, started a job I enjoyed in a place that’s climate was much more suitable to my life than even the thought of the Arctic Tundra that is Chicago. But I knew it was something that I had to do. When I began to announce to my family, friends, colleagues, and associates that at the end of August I would be moving to Chicago, the responses varied, from: “You just moved to Hawaii…with the beach, and sun! Why on earth are you going to move back to the mainland?” to “Well…won’t that be an adventure.” Some responses were more supportive, those who were closest to me understood the discernment process I had to go through for YAV, and respected my need to try something different. And so, with a solid deadline of when I would have to be leaving, I worked and lived in the place of my dreams. I was able to create friendships that made living on the island less lonely, experienced a whole new world perspective. This chapter in my life forced me to consider, without it ever blatantly be spoken, my role as a mainlander in the history of Hawaii, as well as see how a city filled with aloha responded to the marginalized. It was the perfect place for me to heal from rejection, and grow into the person I wanted to be; preparing myself to pick up my life and start all over one more time.
Transition 4: **There is language that some may find inappropriate or crude. Read it anyways**
My time in Chicago has been challenging and rewarding, frustrating and liberating and everywhere in between. It is no cake walk, and I wouldn’t even say it is for the faint of heart. Doing a year of service in Chicago has wrecked me in so many ways that I honestly don’t know how to explain it to those who don’t have a similar experience (stay tuned to see if I ever figure it out). The constant trauma my neighborhood lives in is draining. And it really fucking sucks to witness multitudes of injustices, want to do something about it and feel like you have no power within the system to make a change. As an Eight on the enneagram, it fits that I want security and control and power, and holding the dichotomy of wanting the power to effect change, yet being a program where you have little to no autonomy to effect that change in the way that makes sense for you as the individual is shitty. I knew I was going to get wrecked intellectually. I have never lived in city that is so clearly divided, and there is tons that I still don’t know or fully grasp about some of the intricacies of this beautifully complex place. I didn’t expect to get emotionally-wrecked, but it is the emotional portion of my life that needed to be wrecked. When I began my year in Chicago, I knew graduate school would be the next step, but I needed to figure out where I was being called, and to what I was being called. My frustrations and anger in my inability to heal the generational wounds that are present has led me to seek a way to change the institutions which caused harm.
Transition 5: Carolina Keep Calling Me Home
In two weeks I am getting on a plane to fly back to NC! After a week of R&R and hustling around I will be moving to Washington DC to pursue my Masters of Arts in Public Policy. I will finally be in a place to effect change in the systems that perpetrate the injustices I witnessed for months.
In the last few weeks the pieces on the board have finally begun to come together. I have housing, I have a roommate, and I have my class schedule (still waiting to hear about a job but hey you win some and you lose some). In the midst of planning my next steps, it has been all too easy to check out of my life here. The mentality that I’m basically done isn’t fair, and yet beginning to cut those cords is my natural inclination. Am I looking forward to move on? Absolutely! Am I going to miss the family I’ve created here? More than I could ever articulate! How do I hold both? Recognizing the joys of the next adventure aren’t quite here. I will (more than likely) never leave with my community again, and while living with 5 others has never been a walk in the park, it has been one of the most transforming experiences I have had in my adult life. To have people that I can break down in front of, people that I know me and know at what times I need a hug and at what times I just need to scream into a pillow is comforting.
I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I am a better person for being a YAV. I know that transitioning out of this space is going to be as equally tough as it was to transition into this space. I don’t know if I’m ready for that transition, but ready or not here it comes. The one thing I’m remotely certain on is that I came to Chicago and now I’m going to DC, and there has to be a reason for it (even if I have zero clue what the reason is).
Transition 6: To be Continued…