My main task of the summer is interning with the Refugee Resettlement branch of Catholic Charities in Houston. I work three days a week, mostly in Case Management, which means I’m starting to understand the process a refugee/asylee/Cuban parolee goes through from the time they arrive in the country to when they become mostly autonomous, able to legally work, and capable of navigating American culture. It’s a bit more administrative work and more repetitive than what I expected, but I enjoy it. I like the people I work with, I get to use my Spanish, and I’m learning a whole system I barely knew existed.
The other four days of the week, I work at Victoria’s Secret to earn some money, since my internship is unpaid. Surprisingly, I like this job more than I expected, since I get to move around, talk to a lot of people, and feel like I’m legitimately helping women (it’s amazing what wearing the right size and style of bra will do for you). I’m becoming a pro at gauging what kind of bra a woman will like based on her size, style, and attitude, and my coworkers are fun to be around.
All in all, I like what I’m doing in both my jobs, and I’m happy to be here for the summer, but I can’t imagine doing either full-time and indefinitely. Supervisors in both my jobs have asked if I’m sure I want to leave at the end of the summer, and the answer is a resounding yes–not just because I’ve been anticipating leaving the country for nearly a year now and I’ve already bought my plane ticket out, but also because I just can’t stay here.
In theory, I like the idea of starting a career, and staying in one place is how you form deep relationships. The plan has always been to travel a couple of years to have adventures at a time in my life when I don’t have many deberes and responsibilities to others, and then, once the itch is out of my feet, to come back and start a career or a family, and live out the rest of my days in a place I know and love. However, facing this idea as a reality I could see happening right now is like looking down an endless gray hallway of uniform doorways. I like my jobs now since I’m learning what to do and am hit with new information every day. But once I have that mastered, I can’t imagine leading different people through the same cycle of applying for government benefits or saying, “Ok, well if you have any questions or need a fitting room, my name’s Renee,” day after week after year. I want to help people, and I want to be helpful by knowing what I’m doing, but if I feel myself getting stagnant, or can’t see a change on the horizon, I’ll get restless.
I wouldn’t be too worried about it, since I feel like this kind of commitment issue is a common #recentgradprob. It should be something I’ll grow out of as I mature and my brain goes through its major development. And maybe that’s the case. But I also know myself, and the girl I’ve always been. She’s the girl who always had a book, and not just any book, but usually a book of adventures and quests and explorations, in which the hero wanders into the blank parts of the map. She’s the girl who has lamented the nonexistence of unexplored territory on Earth and the dubious existence of other realms. She’s the girl who tends to move There for the sole purpose of not being Here, even though Here is perfectly nice.
It’s not youth, it’s me.
Half the enjoyment I get out of where I am in life is knowing it’s going to change soon in a drastic way, so I’m always half-anticipating what’s to come, and half-savoring the moment that’s about to be gone.
At the same time, I don’t want to be the person who’s always chasing some novelty or unwilling to take on responsibilities. I know the value of a life with deep roots. But what if I can’t stay still long enough to grow them?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
–J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings