Monday, January 1, 2018

Reflections After 2017

When I was eight years old, I wanted to be either a paleontologist or a geologist. Yesterday, I worked helping delighted children dig up "dinosaur bones."

For nearly a year, I have been volunteering at a local anti-poverty organization's thrifted clothing store, removing tissues from the pockets of donated jeans in the back room and helping women who come into the store find free clothing that they can wear to new jobs and job interviews.

Since late summer, I've been volunteering as a tour guide at a historic location, telling people stories and history and learning their interests and piking their interests with what angle I take when giving the tour.

I have learned so much in the past year. 2017 was a year of changes and development. I started out knowing that it was time for steps. I started working into the year in discouragement and confusion about details. But that volunteer work really helped me and ended up leading me to a day job that I'm loving.

In this past year, particularly since late summer, I have learned to be open. I have always been a compact person, a person who lived inside myself. Now I know what it is to be bold and wide, to let myself be visible, to even want myself to be visible. And not in a vain way: I want to be visible because of the impact I can make on other people. There comes a time, for instance, when you are giving tours, that you realize that you have just said the exact same sentence an hour ago and you're going to say it a third time in another hour. And then you realize that that's okay: the sentence may be familiar to you, but it's new to your audience. Your spiel becomes the basic, surface level area that you need to know, and the real substance of your task is reaching your audience. What makes the difference is realizing that you are repeating these words, this story, for them.

Everybody likes to throw around the words extrovert and introvert, and I think everyone would always have described me as an introvert. But don't they say that it's extroverts that feed on other people's energy and interactions with other people? I, introvert though I seem and may be, do that. In the past, I have been happy to observe others, to enjoy seeing them and watching them. Now I'm taking that a step further; now I can be the one guiding a conversation or initiating an interaction. I get happy when I see other people happy. I get excited to see them excited. I become thrilled to know what a difference I can make.

I volunteer telling stories about historic architecture and people who were part of the early days of the city. I work guiding people towards a couple of hours of fun and entertainment, a free time away from the cares of the day.

I've learned so much about customer service--about serving people, I should say.

And I thank God for the boldness to realize that I can be visible and I can be one of the people to start the chain reactions of positive leading into positive into positive. Praise be. In 2017 I finally realized. Happy New Year.

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