wherever you are

What do you do? What do you want to do?

If you’d have asked me that question in college, I’d have given you a blank stare. I loved to write and read; Dr. Haluska’s were my favorite classes. I was decent at editing, I knew, and okay at writing. There is always room to improve, though, and how many people actually make it as authors?

In short: I had no idea.

I got lucky, though, and landed a copy-writing internship straight out of college. It was at a publishing company, and it was here that my first job was born. I was good at what I did, and my editors loved me. But that didn’t mean I wanted to be a copy writer forever . . .

After a year and a half, I returned home to California where I worked as an ophthalmology tech, a job I hated but desperately needed. Shortly thereafter, I received the opportunity to teach in Asia — first in Taiwan and then in Hong Kong. Those experiences changed my world, and most days I long to go back. It’s been freelance writing and teaching and tech writing since then, however, and I must say: I’m grateful for each one. My “career” thus far has given me insight into far more walks of life than many can claim — and that’s a good thing.

ladder5Why? you might ask, to which I’d reply, Why not? How could it possibly be bad to be able to relate to more people around you?

Not only that, good can be done everywhere. I still think of little *Lacy, in whose classroom I was an assistant last year. She’s a big second grader now, and I wonder, Does she remember me? I miss her little-girl giggle and grin. Working with people who’ve only been around just a very few years is one of the best things I ever did. These days, at the Water Agency, I help facilitate public projects aimed at helping the greater good. Pictured in this post are before and after photos of a dam the water agency built last summer to protect fish in the Russian River. People aren’t the only ones being affected by California’s historic drought.

And it all leads me to believe that whoever you are, and wherever you are, you can make a difference. You don’t have to be in a service job to help others. You don’t have to give all of your time and money to charity (although doing so never a bad thing). You don’t have to be a pastor or a teacher or have ten titles behind your name to make a difference. Life starts now, not at some distant day in the future when you’ve got everything “all figured out.” And every day counts. Sometimes all it takes is a smile or an encouraging word to turn someone’s day around — including your own.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be a rainbow is somebody else’s cloud. — Maya Angelou

*Name changed


A fishladder!

14 thoughts

  1. This is a beautiful post, Jess. “whoever you are, and wherever you are, you can make a difference…not at some distant day in the future when you’ve got everything” So well said, and I love how you said it. We can all start by being a bit more kinder and not to judge things and others too quickly. We are each to our own; we are our own individuals.

    It is interesting to read your “career” journey. Mine is looking very similar to yours, going from job to job but minus the teaching. A lot of people I know baulk at that, saying that without a permanent job and a stable income, how are you going to save money in the future for old age and a house? True, but at the same time I believe we are all meant to go on our own paths and find our own unique way. Then again, living here and there we come to realise that there is so much to know about the world out there.

    Love the two quotes you shared. Hope you are doing well :)

    • Thank you, Mabel! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It’s funny because, when I started it, it actually looked a lot different — much stiffer and without flow. Sometimes the timing of when you write a post really does make a difference.

      Yes, my career has been a bit all over the place (and it’s good to know I’m not the only one)! It is because of these varied experiences that I’ve discovered a few things I love, though. I had no idea I’d enjoy working with kids until I went to Taiwan. I *am* a bit worried about planning for the future, but right now I still have time to figure that out. That’s one of the luxuries of youth. In ten years, I hope to have a bit more set aside “just in case”!

      Hope you have a great weekend! I know I’m ready for it!

  2. Please, people, part of the purpose of life IS to be happy! You can do all of the above AND be happy! Don’t let the naysayers and pessimists and bad-energy-people bring you down! I love much of what Emerson has done, but on the “not happy” part, he is dead (pardon the pun) wrong!

    • I think what Emerson means is that happiness comes not by focusing on happiness, but by focusing on everything else. When we are concerned with our own happiness, we tend to focus inward rather than outward and our lives become smaller when they could be so much more. True joy comes not from material possessions or wealth, but from relationships and experiences. The joy of giving really does exceed the joy of receiving — every time.

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