Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This is the Beginning of Something New

This is the beginning of something new!

Do you ever wonder where your life is going? Do you ever wonder if you are doing the right thing? Going the right way? I know I do. In fact, for the past 2 years, after having completed my Master’s in Public Health, that’s pretty much all I have done.  As a new professional at the entry level with limited work experience—though lots of volunteer and life experience—I found it very challenging to get job in the midst of one of the worst economic crises. To make matters worse, funding for the causes I am interested in is constantly being cut. On top of all of these circumstances, my husband and I decided to move from Minnesota to California after we finished graduate school, and I was faced with having to start a network from scratch.

Santa Barbara Mission
We spent our first year in the West in Santa Barbara while my husband clerked for a federal judge there. Having to find a job for just a year posed a big challenge. Following my idealism, I decided to sign up to be a reading tutor with the local AmeriCorps chapter. I know some people who have been involved with AmeriCorps, but I don’t think I know anybody who had the terribly bad experience I had with them. To be fair, all chapters are run differently, so some are better than others. Let’s just say that the Santa Barbara chapter is not the best example of what the program can do, or of how it could be operated. In short, I lasted a painful 4 months working as a reading tutor and quit after that… Now I only had 8 months left in Santa Barbara, which made looking for a job even more challenging. Once again, I was faced with the future, with choices, and I was challenged by my own expectations.

It was shortly after the New Year rolled in that I came across the United Nations Online Volunteering Opportunities while looking for something meaningful to do with the time I had left in Santa Barbara. In this site I found a great opportunity to volunteer with Delta Women, a Nigerian NGO fighting for the rights of women. For the next 8 months, I worked arduously with Delta Women, doing whatever I could to contribute to their cause!  It was during this time that I finally felt satisfied with my day to day. My work with Delta Women gave me a sense of purpose and kept me motivated. After 8 months, in August, my husband’s clerkship came to an end and, once again, we packed our bags and our apartment, and set out. This time we were not moving immediately, but we were embarking on a 3-month trip around the world, a much-anticipated adventure that had been in the making for a couple of years.

Due to my work with Delta Women and to our travel plans, I stopped questioning the direction my life was taking. Every once in a while I would think about jobs and about the fact that I had graduated with a master’s degree but didn’t have a job. The student loans sometimes came to haunt me, but I usually managed to push them out of my mind. Where was I going now? I wasn’t sure.

As part of my post-AmeriCorps time in Santa Barbara I also got reacquainted with the arts, and I started (and finished) 3 pieces. I have always loved drawing and painting but never thought about pursuing it and, here I was, unemployed and with a lot of time in my hands… plenty of time to work on my art again. Although I had not been doing much painting or drawing, over the past few years I had developed a new interested in photography. During my time in Santa Barbara, my photographic interest bloomed even more too… if you have ever been to Santa Barbara, you would know how inspiring that place is.

Scenery like this makes you forget all your worries!
I didn’t think too much about my future direction while traveling. During those 3 months, I only thought about each day I started next to my soul mate. Each day was an empty page, ready to be filled with whatever we decided to so. Oh the freedom of traveling…  but, once our trip came to an end, and we moved permanently to San Francisco, the questions started to invade my mind again. What was I going to do? What job was I going to get? Was I going to find a job at all? I looked, I applied, I interviewed, but I didn’t find any. About 3 months into my search, I stopped looking and I decided to do something on my own. I started thinking about my options.

So, here I am now. It’s been 2 weeks since I opened my store and I have been learning lots about it. Surprisingly, it takes most of my time during the day. So far I have sold 2 photos and I’m hoping to continue to sell more. Also, while poking around Etsy I noticed that a lot of people write blogs, which brought back my desire to start one, and here I am!

What is this blog going to be about? I’m not totally sure. Once again, I am faced with the questions about the future and my direction in life. This time, however, I can take this any way I want and it’s all in my own hands. I am finally following my artistic passion by showcasing my photography and by trying to do something with it.  For right now, I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’ve decided to ignore societal pressure to conform to the traditional standard of getting a job, settling down, etc… At the end, what really matters, is if you met your own standards and if you were happy while doing that!

We’ll see where this adventure takes me!

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiration you are, Paola! I love your blog, I love your Etsy page! I cannot wait for your next post(s) and I am looking forward to them like I would, a Christmas Present! <3