As another year comes to a close, it’s time to reflect.
By global standards, 2016 was pretty much a train wreck. Personally, though, it was a beautiful journey that I will tell in three parts.
A year ago, I was an unemployed college graduate with no idea of what I wanted to do with myself. You see, for the majority of my life, my intuition has been my guide. Until this point, early every major life decision has been guided by instinct. College? My gut lead me to the right fit. Major? My heart found home in the English Department. Work at camp in the summers? It just felt right.
The future, however, holds infinite possibilities and the prospective paths had me absolutely paralyzed. I had absolutely no idea of anything. My intuition, the little tug that pulls me in the next direction, had failed.
So, at the beginning of 2016, I felt my heart tugging me back to Europe and, against all logic, I followed.
PART I: ACROSS THE POND
My journey lead me to England. Specifically, to a Christian hospitality ministry and study center called L’Abri. For three months, I lived in a manor house in the countryside with people from all over the world. It was a simple and beautiful time–a time of homemade meals and stimulating discussion, of singing in ancient churches, of long hours reading before a fire. I made new friends, met new authors, and thought about the world in new, exciting ways.
Every part of me came alive at L’Abri–it was like the best, most beautiful aspects of myself were pulled to the surface. I was a flower with my face to the sun and, oh, did I blossom.
Filled to the brim with the beauty of life, I then set out on what I affectionately call European April–where I spent a month on my own. I spent time in Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
My travels were exhilarating, exhausting, and often lonely, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I pushed myself to the edge of my comfort zone, spending weeks at a time in places I didn’t know a soul or speak the language, and found that I was up to the challenge.
PART II: PULLING WEEDS AND PICKING PATHS
When I returned to Minnesota, it was time to stop beating around the bush and find a job. Because I was broke, I immediately began working at my family’s apple orchard and strawberry patch to tide me over financially.
I ended up working at the orchard all summer. My coworkers included my twenty-year-old brother and two high school boys. Our conversations weren’t very stimulating, so I whittled away the hours listening to audiobooks and podcasts. For a few weeks, we ran the strawberry patch while the fruit was in season. Most of the time work was dirty, messy, and tedious. We pulled weeds, hauled things, trimmed root suckers, and hand-thinned the entire orchard.
A few afternoons a week, I packed up my laptop and headed to the library to search for a job.
I’ve heard it said that job hunting is the worst and can now attest to that. It was exhausting, pouring over job descriptions and drafting cover letters that would most likely never get read. I sent application after application into the void. It took an incredible amount of imagination–every day I had to picture a new future, a new life.
I almost took a job as the Assistant Front Desk Manager at a well-known resort in Northern Minnesota, but against all logic, my gut told me no and I listened to it.
Eventually, I did find a job.
PART III: MADAM LIBRARIAN
Flash back to earlier in the year: one afternoon while at L’Abri, I was put to work cataloging their private library. As I scanned bar-codes, looked up copyright information, and scoured the internet for plot summaries, a light bulb went off in my head: “I COULD DO THIS.”
Fast forward six months: I got a job as a librarian.
When you’re looking for work, you’re told constantly that your connections are everything. It turns out, they actually are.
While at a community event over the summer, my mom crossed paths with several of the librarians in our local system. They got talking and, when informed that I wanted to pursue a career in the field, gave my mom their contact information.
I reached out to the Assistant Director of the system and, eventually, we met up for coffee. It turned out, she was someone I already knew. In high school, I volunteered at my local library and she had been the librarian at the time. She remembered me and I asked her lots of questions about the career field and graduate school.
Near the end of the meeting, she asked me if I would like to be considered for an open position as a librarian at one of their smaller libraries. I said yes.
A few days later, I was interviewed. A few days after that, I was offered the job and accepted.
New jobs are never easy, but I have really enjoyed learning to be a librarian. My library is very small, which has helped a great deal. I oversee circulation, maintain and monitor the collection, and run programming. Eventually, I hope to found a Friends of the Library organization and do more community outreach… but I’m taking things one step at a time. Most of my time so far has been spent getting to know my patrons and the people in my community, which has been my favorite part of the job. There are so many wonderful people in the world and I really love being part of their lives.
I am so, so thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given and am really excited to step forward in my chosen profession. I never thought I’d be one of the lucky people to find meaningful work at a young age, but here I am!
2016 was an adventure.
It wasn’t perfect–Parts were frustrating, stressful, boring, and uncertain. As a whole, though, I have so much to be thankful for.
2016 took me across the world and home again.
2016 gave birth to new dreams and provided the paths to pursue them.
2016 lead me to a job that I love and brought wonderful people into my life.
2016 was a year of contrasts: uncertain to driven, jobless to happily employed, there and back again.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that my instincts rarely lead me astray. There were so many times I made decisions that didn’t make sense to outside observers, but I ultimately ended up in the place that felt the most right.
Here’s to a great year! Thanks for sticking with me. 2017, here we come!