It’s funny how life takes us to unexpected places.
At this time last year, I had just moved in for my senior year of college. I had this unexplainable and overwhelming sense of peace as the year began, so I ran with it. I prayed a lot over it, and trusted that this peace would carry me through.
The beginning of my senior year was far from what the average person would call “peaceful”. I had an accident the second week of school where I dropped a bench on my big toe, fracturing it and requiring immediate surgery. I was off my feet for almost three months. Needless to say, this was not how I planned to begin my senior year. Even though I want to become a child life specialist, I am squeamish when I am the one who is receiving the medical attention. When I was in the ER and the nurse came in to say they had contacted the orthopedic team to come over to evaluate, later leading to a procedure, I so distinctly remember closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and saying, “Okay.” I knew I had to rely on the sense of peace that I had been feeling, a sense of peace that was and is far beyond myself. This was certainly an opportunity for me to explore what the meaning of peace truly means. I had heard the quotes, “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things, and still be calm in your heart.” and “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Christ.” but had never so clearly understood them until that moment. It is one of those things where you say, “Yeah, yeah, I get it.” but don’t really “get it” until you are put in that situation. Or maybe some people never “get it” and that’s okay too, as we all understand situations differently. But for me, this is how I have come to understand peace. Sure, I can be at peace when things are peachy, but it was truly tested in a time of an unexpected event.
Around Christmas time I was getting back to myself, and was getting ready for my Human Services internship at WHY ME & Sherry’s House, a non-profit for children with cancer. (If you want to learn more about that experience, read my post here!) I was unsure about what I was going to do after graduation; I had looked at a Child Life master’s program, but decided that I wanted to wait to apply for a year so I could take some time off from academics and gain some more “life experience”. I had considered a year of service. I had considered looking for a job. But I didn’t just want to find a filler. I wanted it to be fulfilling.
Usually seniors in college are freaking out at this point, right? Of course I did get anxious at times, but I trusted my gut, and more importantly trusted God, that I was on the right path. My parents have always instilled in me to create my own path and not feel pressured to go with the crowd. My gut didn’t tell me to apply to grad school like lots of other people were doing, so I didn’t. My gut didn’t tell me that any of the job opportunities I had seen so far were what I felt called to do, so I didn’t jump on them. Okay, so what the heck do I do now? Yeah, I can trust that things are going to “work out” but that also involves being active in the process.
Life is full of surprises that you just can’t plan out.
Two months into my internship at WHY ME & Sherry’s House, one of the kids living at the house was moving. She had the most captivating giggle, was my helper in doing tasks around the house, loved tickles, and made dress-up a daily activity. She was a pure ray of sunshine, and made an everlasting impact on all the lives she touched. We had a going away party for her, and my supervisor told me that her child life specialist was coming!
We met, and she told me about how she does Child Life in the home setting, which I had never learned about before. She also told me that they were starting a Child Life internship program at the agency she worked for. We exchanged information, and I moved forward with the application process. To keep all my options open, I took a tour of a school for students with emotional challenges for a possible job interview to follow. It didn’t feel right as I thought about it walking to my car, but ironically enough, as I got into my car, the child life specialist called me, telling she wanted to move forward with my application and have me start the internship upon graduation. I thought this was too good to be true. But, it wasn’t. Sometimes, there is no catch, and you can believe that good things can actually happen to you. Sometimes, not having a plan is a plan in itself, and allows for opportunities you hadn’t planned on!
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything in life always works out smoothly. Not everyone’s situation works out like mine did here. Who knows where I will end up after my internship. There are days when we have difficult cases.
But, I will continue to relish in the beauty of life. I will continue to work hard and accept whatever comes my way as a result of that. I will not feel guilty when something good happens in my life, but will be humble about it. There are so many surprises and opportunities for joy to be experienced. This past year of my life has shown me that I have to be open to whatever happens next, and fearlessly follow that!
I will write a post soon about my current internship, but wanted to write about this past year of my life to process the journey I have had thus far to get to this point.
Keep trusting your own unique journey!
And, cheers to the Class of 2017 & all new child life interns!
Child Life Jackie ❤