This is my first week since the beginning of July that I am not technically an intern for the Borgen Project. I actually did not imagine myself so emotionally attached to a position like that, but surprise!
I’ve had quite an employment experience over the course of my young life. We all accept positions we need to make money, whether we like it or not, or we accept positions we think we’ll enjoy, but eventually we gradually end up resenting ourselves for starting in the first place.
Maybe that’s just me. Simply put, it’s been a bumpy road. So when I looked more into volunteer opportunities this summer, finding the Borgen Project was really on a whim. Knowing that it’s nationally recognized, well-established, and located many miles away, I didn’t think I’d even be accepted.
But after an initial application, writing sample, and an interview, I managed to find a place as a writer, making two articles a week and even doing fundraising on the side. Didn’t expect myself to fundraise, an idea that internally makes me cringe in fear. But I did it. And beyond navigating a new setup in working via telecommuting, I have learned so much.
Not only did I gain more knowledge that actually feels important and relevant to me, not just random assignments thrown at me for no reason beyond keeping me occupied for a couple of hours, but I learned so much about myself. About what I’m capable of, what I’m passionate about, what motivates me. I didn’t realize what I was missing out on until I found what I enjoy, and what an eye-opener that is.
I was blind to what I assumed I liked and was destined to do. No wonder I was so shocked to find I wasn’t that great at it, becoming resentful about how challenging it was for me to pick up on skills that seemed to come so easily to others, to feel mediocre when I always strive to be my best. Perfectionist tendencies, yes, but it still drives my motivation and ambition, so hearing criticism that isn’t helpful just makes me more uninspired. I’ve gone through the downward spiral cycle too many times for only being twenty.
So here is my point: I love humanitarian work. I love being an advocate about world issues that really deserve more attention. I love taking action on those issues and feeling like I’m making a positive contribution rather than being a static supporter. I’ve realized the importance of little things like phone calls and emails to Congress members; yes, it is a very minor inconvenience in your day, but seriously, it shows lawmakers what the people care about.
I love being the voice for those who are voiceless. It’s a phrase I’ve used many times, probably just on this blog, but it’s potency is true when your voice also includes action. You not only spread important ideas and information, but you incorporate that into your actions and intentions. I genuinely get excited when someone asks me about my work with the Borgen Project, or now with the Peace Corps and NAMI, because they’re all things that I truly love to do. It’s work that fulfills me. Even if I don’t necessarily get a paycheck at this point (obviously that’s a goal for the future), it’s getting my toes wet for possibilities that could so soon be in reach.
I want to practice what I preach. This experience with the Borgen Project as been just that. I wasn’t sure about the different components of the position, the expectations laid out in a Google Doc to complete every week for three months, but I accomplished them all. I made my fundraising goal of $500. I wrote physical letters to my Congress members and even the White House to discuss the foreign affairs budget. I found new ideas every week to bring awareness to global health, education, and its correlation with poverty. Perhaps people might look down upon me working on an “online” and “unpaid” position, something that isn’t exactly to-the-T what my department at college would push on students to pursue, but I’m beyond grateful.
Everything does happen for a reason. You get knocked down enough times, it’s that single hope you keep just so you don’t feel like you’re drowning. And it always turns out to be correct, in one way or another. Things work out as they should. You have to work through the muck and fall down a few times, but you do eventually get there. It’s not on our timing; the opportunities we need will come to us.
I am now motivated, now more than ever, to see what happens next rather than loathing and fearing an unknown. I have a solid direction now, something I really haven’t had until now. Better late than never, right? And if you feel like you’re wandering around aimlessly, trust me, your path will alight soon. If you continue to work hard and be your best self, your intentions and goals will find a happy middle ground.
Shameless plug, but I truly do recommend that you peruse the Borgen Project website. I wouldn’t get involved with a nonprofit that wasn’t reputable, that didn’t stand on a solid reputation with its work. Global poverty is something we should all care about.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie