What do you do after spending a year and a half running all over the United States, working on field crews and farm crews, doing menial labor and being constantly frustrated by your lack of influence?
You go back to school, of course.
After sitting at home from October through January, working for my father's turkey business and getting progressively more depressed, I decided a radical change was in order. Now, in the past, these changes have involved packing everything into my 70-liter Kelty backpack, buying a plane ticket, and jetting off to my next location to do mostly the same thing but in a new place. I thought that by uprooting myself I could change myself.
Note to anyone who is thinking of trying this; it doesn't work. You are still you, just in a new place with fewer friends.
I have had wonderful adventures over the past few years, in the mountains of southern Colorado, on the coffee farms of the Big Island of Hawaii, in the northwoods of Minnesota, and on my family's farm. Yet every time I've moved, I've been disappointed to discover that no matter how exciting my new location may be, I am still stuck with the same limitations as before, just with a new address.
So, this time, I decided to try something truly different; staying home. Now, I did actually move a little; I'm now at my grandparent's house instead of my parents', because it is closer to school. But still within fifteen minutes of my old address. And even though I'm so close to the same old place I've spent most of my life, my whole outlook, strangely enough, has become different.
I'm a student again! This time at a graduate level (hopefully starting my Masters' in the fall), at the school I swore I would never go to because it's too close to home. But the past few weeks have been weirdly wonderful; I've met some amazing people, and learned that I don't have to move far away to find what I've been looking for. I feel useful. I have the opportunity here to do what I've been wanting to do for years, which is to help people plan more resilient environments. Right here, in my own backyard, are professors and researchers passionate about the same things I am, and willing to bring me along for the ride! How is this possible?
It turns out that once you stop turning your nose up at the opportunities right in front of you, you can finally start getting things done.
So. Back to school for this writer. I'll let you know how the adventure progresses.