Sometimes, when I think I have a lot of good blog topics, I jot little notes under “Wednesday Blog Day” in my planner. Other times, I jot notes based on important things that are happening or will happen in the coming week to remind myself that there is something worth mentioning. This is one of those times.
It’s late on a Wednesday night and I have just returned home from an awesome meet-up with an inspiring group of New Yorkers – more on that in another blog. I was riding the subway home with a really cool woman I had met there and we were talking about life in the city – how we moved here, how we found our first apartment, major milestones.
I’ve been here for almost seven full months now – which is truly astounding to me. And it was a really fun experience to recount to my new friend how I ended up here.
You see, I was in Europe…
With some hindsight, those first few weeks that had me in panicked despair do run into a good story.
I’ve written a lot about moving to New York, adjusting to city life, and finding my way through my next chapter, and while I’ve written a lot about the key events, perhaps I’ve neglected to talk about the most important thing – the transitions that take us from Point A to Point B.
I’ve worked nearly a dozen jobs since moving to the city – some part-time, some freelance, some in my field, some not. As a result, I’ve met countless incredible people with inspiring stories and my eyes have been opened to so many new things I never imagined I would experience.
All that being said, there are two main jobs that sum up my 2016 thus far. The first being the Marketing Internship with DoSomething.org – the job that brought me to the Big Apple. The second being my role as a Stewardship and Development Associate at The Riverside Church – a position I haven’t spoken much about.
Maybe that’s because I’m unsure of the proper way to articulate how much it changed my life.
In full disclosure, I truly never expected to work there. The opportunity came up and it was in the nonprofit world I so desperately craved. It was a perfect fit. I was working part-time at DoSomething and the part-time role at Riverside squeezed into the open gaps in my week. It just made sense.
The first thing I noticed about Riverside was the people – specifically the team I worked with. During my first week there, I was eating lunch in the conference room with another new associate and two of the three other ladies that made up the S&D team. We talked about what books we were reading and intellectual theories we had stumbled upon. We touched on news stories and trivia and – as lame as this sounds I’m going to run with it – the conversation was more filling than my pb&j.
It was so effortless – to have these meaningful conversations with my coworkers. More than that, it was fulfilling. As the weeks went by, I found myself sharing small victories and silly mistakes with the team. Our conversations went beyond our weekend plans and into our 5-year plans. We superseded small talk and I felt myself growing as an individual.
I wanted to be mindful of my time and how I spent it. I wanted to do things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to be intentional with my professional and personal development. I wanted to wake up every day with a heart full of life and eyes burning with exciting for a new opportunity to do something radically kind.
You see, the people I spent the past almost 6 months working with were some of the most awe-inspiring individuals I’ve ever met. I learned how to be a confident and strong leader. I learned how to be aware of wellness and restfulness. I learned how to live into the things I am passionate about. And all together, I learned how to laugh until I cried, spill over with excitement upon seeing a project through, and at the end of the day, clock-out knowing I was a part of something phenomenal.
Tomorrow is my last day at the church. We went out yesterday to celebrate. We sat in Riverside Park – my favorite – and over our meals, told stories that brought me to tears with laughter yet also commented on present day issues that made us all silent with our thoughts. Later, as we left the Froyo store that we had naturally stopped at, we could feel the sky rumbling and the lightning popping as we dipped under metal scaffolding was a little much for me to feel 100% safe.
My boss and I were walking north on Broadway to our respective destinations when the sky finally burst. What felt like gallons of water came rushing down on us and despite my black dress apparel, I couldn’t help but turn into a little kid.
We screamed and started running – she to her friend’s apartment and I to the subway – laughing and sloshing through the flooded streets.
And as I skidded into the train at 103rd, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what Happiness means – eating frozen yogurt and dodging thunderstorms with people whose existence you weren’t aware of a year ago and yet now have come to mean so much.
A few people have asked me if I’m ready for my next step – and truth be told, I haven’t even thought to be nervous.
You see, I worked in the Stewardship and Development office at The Riverside Church and the people I worked with there cultivated more than a culture of giving and community. They shaped me into a person who can with confidence say: I am ready. I got this. The entire world is open and I am here. And I can do this.
If we view life as nothing more than a series of beginnings and endings, we tend to miss the good stuff that really comes when we’re in the moment with the people we love. So try to realize right now that what you are experiencing is the marrow of life. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have people who are shaping you into who you want to be so when these big life changes do roll around, you’re more than okay with them – you’re ready to rock them.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who made my time at Riverside amazing.