I think this blog was my idea, so it’s probably on me to kick it off. The Billings Babes are incredible humans, profound thinkers, and talented writers across the board, so I’m really, really excited about this blog. Trust me, it’ll be worth reading, whether you are a current JV, an FJV, or just a non-acronymed regular person. Please, take a minute and read the About page for some more background on this blog and the Babes.
TLDR: this blog is the “traveling pants” of the sisterhood that is the Billings Babes.
So, I’ve had approximately four thousand and three post ideas floating around in my brain since finishing up my year in Billings, but I think I should maybe just stick to one at a time, in the hopes that these will be short and sweet and people will actually have a lifespan long enough to read them, unlike my other novels from my JV year. Maybe just long enough to occupy your morning cup of coffee or your self-sanctioned “distraction time” at work.
Alright, so here I am, now just over two full months into the rest of my life as an FJV (that’s Former Jesuit Volunteer), and I do not have a job. I do not even have any leads at the moment. I’ve submitted countless applications and gotten increasingly skilled at selling myself for an impressive array of jobs (#liberalarts #LSandPlay), but 9 times out of 10 (rounding down), I don’t hear a thing back. Better yet, I have interviewed for and been rejected from several jobs that I felt incredibly well-suited for. I have spent an ungodly number of hours on my computer searching for jobs, writing unique cover letters, digging up applicable writing samples, and tweaking my resume. Nonetheless, as it stands, I am currently using my college degree and my professional experience to get covered in flour and soot on a near nightly basis at my old stomping grounds (read: my high school job), the Italia Gardens of Flint, making wood-fire pizzas. And you know what? I have somehow, by the Grace of Big G himself, not entered panic mode (yet).
Still, when I tell people what’s going on in the job department, I find myself drawn into immediate defense mode: But it was nearly impossible to apply for jobs while I was still in Montana when I worked all day and had a community awaiting me at home and a distinct lack of wifi; Oh, I traveled for a few weeks and went right to Philly to visit family and help my sister move in so I got an even later start; Ugh, it’s so easy to get lost in the online application system, you know; It’s really nice to be home for a while and I’m really loving the down time; Well, I recently found a typo in my resume, that’s probably why I haven’t heard back, haha (okay, I’ve never voiced the last one, but it is nonetheless, unfortunately true – s/o to Logan who forever has my back). Why do I feel like this?
So first, let me say that making the decision to return to Italia Gardens while I look for a job was a humbling one, to be sure, as nobody expected me to return after finishing college. And of course, it is not unknown that I am only back temporarily, while I look for another job, and yet, I am returning to work alongside some of the same people I worked there with during high school, for whom it is a career and livelihood. Being back at IG has provided an interim community for me, one full of some much-missed familiar faces and many more new faces, and one that is certainly sustaining me in unexpected ways while I’m home.
And second, don’t be confused – I have my moments of complete stress and creeping embarrassment and I’m still figuring out how to process everything that’s happening (and everything that isn’t). My transition from Billings to home was a turbulent one, in many respects: I lost every ounce of the routine I had carefully crafted throughout the last year, my community disbanded to all corners of the country, my relationship came to an end, I moved back in with my parents into an under-construction home and my sister’s old room, etc. It’s less than ideal. To make matters worse, I am a product of a certain type of privilege that foolishly equates leisure with laziness, and living at home or in your hometown with a failure to live up to your full potential. I don’t know, it sounds unkind and foolish when I write it out, but that’s how I felt, and those are the standards I was holding myself to. I don’t know where this truly originated from for me – it may be that my parents have never ceased to encourage me to travel and try new things and step outside of my comfort zone, paired with the fact that the University of Michigan sets the bar high as they constantly tout their status as a top university full of the leaders and best. Both of these are great things, but this particular human isn’t always rational. This is why for months before my departure from Billings I staunchly proclaimed that I would be looking for jobs around Michigan, but not in Michigan. After striking out on my own to Montana for a year, I couldn’t imagine just circling back and settling (getting stuck?) right back where I started, though I missed my friends and family like crazy.
Thankfully, I’ve had a few important realizations. First, I don’t need to be afraid of staying in Michigan, or even in Flint. I just spent a year working in community organizing, in complete awe of the countless members who were committed to protecting the communities in which they were born and raised, for whom I had immense respect. Montana was new and alluring and stunningly beautiful, and I fit more exploring into one year than I would have thought possible. Still, I love Michigan, and have all sorts of pride for Michigan, and yet there is much of this state that I don’t know and have never as much as visited. And why shouldn’t I use my Michigan education in a place that I love? Why not me?
Second, I realized I don’t need to put the rest of my life on hold while I’m without a career-oriented job, because I know there is more to life than a job (recognizing, of course, the immense privilege I have in my stable home and supportive parents and their willingness to take me back in while I’m in limbo). El recently posted an Annie Dillard quote that put things into perspective for me: “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.” I just attended a food justice speaker luncheon with my parents at U-M Flint, I’m registered for a 3-day Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint this month, and am volunteering at playground build at Mott Park this weekend. I’ve started tapping into my actual networks, creating new connections in the community, sprucing up my LinkedIn profile – heck, I even ordered business cards! I know that I will find the right job in due time, whether in Michigan or elsewhere, and life will go on and undoubtedly lead me to unexpected places, and this little blip of stressful uncertainty will be laughable in retrospect.
So, if I have to name a value that this situation is absolutely demanding I confront, it is simple living. To quote our covenant (basically, a contract of commitment to the four values), it has demanded that I value people and relationships over possessions or status; that I seek simplicity in my use of time, energy, and resources; that I stay present to how my needs relate to the needs of the world, allowing for room to stretch and be flexible so as to truly become “a person for others,” while also choosing to practice self-care when that is what naturally arises. PREACH.
In short, I need to keep reminding myself to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy where I am, right now. My unemployment, of course, has brought countless moments of joy: the freedom to pick up and visit my scattered friends from Grand Rapids to Nashville, quality time with my parents and dog, the ability to drive down to Ann Arbor to tailgate before a football game or go out with friends, the bliss of sleeping in and indulging in afternoon naps, the catharsis of working with my hands and a rolling pin to make delicious pizzas, and maybe most rewarding of all, the opportunity to reconnect with Flint, a city which would have been hugely unknown in Montana if not for the water crisis, but a city that is picking itself back up, stronger than before. Embedded in this “in-between” have been countless other encounters with the JVC values, and I will surely use this outlet to continue sharing those.
I will leave you with an incredible prayer that reads like a poem, by a ridiculously eloquent Jesuit priest (of course) by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. This prayer/poem also contains the namesake of this post. This was essentially written about me, currently, in real-time:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Much love, y’all.