Finding a purpose

So I wrote this post over a week ago, but was sitting on it because it felt so unresolved. Now it might be resolved and I’m relieved. 

I’m at a fork in the road. An impasse. Basically I’m stuck. I’ve always had a purpose and right now I feel like I don’t. None other than to graduate from MIT, but that’s nearly done.

In high school, I wanted to do well in class and stay busy so that I wasn’t around home. Between my parents splitting up and my mom starting to drink, I liked to stay away as much as possible. I volunteered and took college classes and did all the National Honor Society stuff that a good student does.

In college, all my focus went towards Program Board and Student Government. I loved having an impact on the student body and contributing to the overall experience of my classmates. Student Government in particular gave me a great glimpse into the bureaucracy of business and I loved it.

After graduating, I remember going through a struggle similar to the one I am now. It was the first time I was embarking on a time of my life that wasn’t pre-determined. What I did after college was a blank canvas and I was nervous about that. It wasn’t a terribly long struggle though, because I had my job lined up before I graduated and started my corporate gig that summer.

Even then I found more ways to be involved. First, I started this blog. Second, I joined Girls in Tech and started giving a lot of my time to volunteering. It was a great experience and something I miss dearly. I tried getting involved with similar organizations while in Boston, but nothing has been the right fit.

Starting at MIT was a tad overwhelming. The classes were a lot of work and I got involved with a few groups, but I never felt like I was making an impact. Even when I was all in on the Its on Us campaign, the Women’s Advisory Group, and the Title IX Working Group, I didn’t feel like my efforts mattered. I’ve come to the realization that I have no idea where I’ll be living in a few months or what I’ll be doing and that’s hard. It’s also difficult to get out of bed every day when I’m not actively contributing to something I’m crazy excited about. I’m excited to find that next thing again soon. 

The next day though, I made a trip to NYC to meet with people in the entertainment industry. I ended up landing an opportunity to work with a small entertainment advisory firm. I’m going to be doing some really neat analytics work for identifying successful content before it airs. If it ends up being a perfect fit and I like the company and the company likes me, maybe it turns into a job. Even if it just working on extremely awesome analytics that focuses on content featuring strong females and meetings some really great people in the industry, that sounds just awesome too.

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Talks with Grandma

I came home from volunteering tonight and gave my Grandma a call. It’s probably been a couple weeks since I last talked to her, and I has missed a call from her on Sunday. We spent over an hour catching up, which just reminds me how much I love her to pieces. She has been such an influential person in my life. In a lot of ways, I think I turned out alright because of her. In other ways though, I wonder how I ever turned out the way I did. The funniest moments?

  • How similar we are. She was telling me about a woman who she knew who was going to be dying and she didn’t want her to die for a few days because she was busy and wouldn’t have time for a funeral. She says it in this point blank “oh geez I hope she doesn’t die today” type way that can only make me smile. Laughing, I explained how I had just said the same thing about my aunt having a baby. I hoped she could put it off for a few days (Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, so, success!) even though she was due on Monday so that Joe and I could come visit the baby right away. Her caveat was that of course she doesn’t want the woman to die, but if it is going to happen anyway there isn’t anything she can do to stop it.
  • “Oh, I think she is a slut!” was my Grandma’s response to me announcing my forthcoming trip to Kentucky to see Miley Cyrus. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard my Grandma use the word “slut” before, so that in itself was a shock. If Miley knew my Grandma though, I bet she would be proud that she is the one that finally brought that out of her. I’m just guessing here though…
  • She was telling me that the guy that baptized me had passed away and she would be going to his funeral. “You remember Father ____” she asked. Well, no, no I don’t. But, what I wanted to respond with was “I was baptized?” which would have given her a heart attack so I’m glad I somewhat have the power to bite my tongue, even if it only works around my Grandma.

Volunteer Work

Some volunteer work is really awesome… whether because it is actually a fun experience or because it is very fulfilling/meaningful work. Some volunteer work sucks. This happens when it is neither fun nor fulfilling. I will now provide some examples of each.

Planting trees along the Mississippi River in April in 40 degree rain/snow weather: Awesome. The work was grueling and the weather was painful. But, it was with a good group of people and we were all able to laugh at our situation. Plus, maybe some of those trees took root and will end up being huge and living longer than me.

Overnight shift at a homeless shelter: Awesome. I was mainly there in case anything happened, but I don’t know what I would have done if something actually had. I mostly made coffee, chatted with interesting people, and sat at a desk shushing people before going to lie down for my 4 hour sleep shift. I did it a lot during college and it was a nice way to get homework done without friends getting in the way. I also felt like I was actually contributing though… these people had no place to go and I was kind of watching over them keeping them safe at night.

Manning a booth at the Living Green Expo: Suck. No one stopped by and no one wanted to hear what we had to say. I did get a back massage out of the deal though, and I sat there eating M&Ms with Joe the whole time. Let’s just call it a wash.

Bagging potatoes for 3 hours before going on a tour that ends in a sex-slave room: Suck. I’m a corporate cube worker. I can’t be brought to a warehouse, stuck in front of a pallet of potatoes, and be expected to happily stuff 10lb bags for 3 hours. I get bored. This could be my ADHD, this could be that bagging potatoes isn’t my thing. Either way, the entire time I was thinking “I would be working so much harder if they varied up my tasks a bit…” which in turn slowed me down further. The day ended with an “international tour” which took us through a really neat mock-up of different homes across the world. However, the last room was just a bed under a red light with a small blanket on the wire frame and handcuffs. Bam – sex trafficking. How does me packing potatoes help? It doesn’t, not at all, which left me feeling even more deflated.

Handing out tons (literally) of food to elementary school children who really need it: Awesome. I’ve done this a few times at my old elementary school. The first time I got to give out girl scout cookies which made me the favorite of every child there. It also hit really close to home because only a while back it was me in that school having my own not-perfect-home-situation and I made it out, so, I want to help others in any way I can so they can make it through too. I’m trying to get the Lead Volunteer position with this organization so I can make a bigger contribution, but, I feel like I’m stalking them to no avail.

Re-shelving books at a library: Awesome. You get to have quiet time playing with books. I was able to both build my “to-read” list and make fun of some of the crazy books people borrowed. It was also really helpful to learn my way around the library… I still find myself grabbing random stalks of books and re-shelving them sometimes. Hey, that’s a good idea. Instead of legitimately volunteering at a library, I could just creep around shelving books on a regular basis. Then I wouldn’t have to fill out the application or let them know when I’m going to be in… commitment is overrated.

The moral of the story? If you think volunteering sucks, try something else. You just aren’t doing it right.