As I am re-evaluating my life on a daily basis, I try to identify positive outcomes that stem from my surroundings. To be less vague, I am trying to evaluate positive aspects that come from a job I am not currently enjoying. One huge benefit I discovered over the weekend is that working at a job I am not passionate about has made me a better youth leader. Let me provide you with some background and explanation.
For the past 7 years my husband has been working with and mentoring at risk youth. About 4 years ago I become involved, and I have not looked back since. These kids are amazing and I warn all new volunteers that you can’t help but fall in love. Every Saturday I spend two hours with a group of high school girls and have the opportunity to listen to what is going on in their lives. We mentor through an organization called, “Friends of Farm Drive Neighborhood Center”. It acts as a local community center and provides after school homework help, preschool classes, and food assistance once a month. It is funded by a local church and has been involved in the neighborhood for over 20 years. Besides the usual offerings the center provides, we also take the kids on day trips throughout the Bay Area (i.e. visiting Alcatraz) or weekend long trips (i.e. camping or the snow). It is an amazing opportunity to encourage the kids and open their worlds to something bigger than they could have imagined.
This past weekend we took the kids camping at Memorial State Park in San Mateo County. We had so much fun camping, hiking, creek walking, and eating too much food. As I was lying on the ground Friday night, I realized I was having much more fun than the year before. I was enjoying the kids more, I was laughing harder at the quirky habits being exercised, and I was not trying to micro-manage the kids as I normally would. I feel like this was happening because I was actually enjoying my time. I wasn’t worried about where else I could be, or what other tasks I could be completing; the kids were my priority and I wasn’t going to worry about how many s’mores each kid ate. I was living in the moment.
About a year ago, I listened to a podcast by a Pastor named Rob Bell. Many people know him by the Nooma videos he creates, but he also has a church he leads on a weekly basis. In his podcast he was describing the importance of maintaining a Sabbath and being present in every moment of every day. This idea resonates with me particularly because I hold anxiety about the possibilities the future will bring, and this anxiety tends to distract me from appreciating the moment I am living in at the time. I don’t want life to pass me by, and living in anxiety, fear, or worry will take my moments away. I have to constant remind myself that I cannot forget the moment I am living in so that I can stress about the possibility of something happening down the road.
This reminder is exactly what made me a better camp leader over the weekend. I wasn’t stressing about what the kids might do, I was enjoying what they were doing. Although I may not love what I’m doing, that lack of passion is motivating me to really cherish the time I have outside of work. As it is with most people, I am not at all perfect, but I am a work in progress.