Post Grad Duck #19
*WARNING: This post is kinda long. I didn’t realize I had so much to say*
When you’re younger, everyone asks you ,“What do you want to be when you grow up?” (or as another variation, “What do you want to do when you get older?”) I think this is a two-fold question. In one way, it is entirely endearing and lovely to ask a young child what they want to be, to allow them to imagine the craziest, “funnest,” sweetest, “adventurest” thing they can think of. It encourages kindergarteners to dream and fifth graders to explore. It’s a rich question full of beautiful, potential answers. It stems from a sincere and genuine curiosity. In another way, the question is frustrating and awkward–usually this happens when talking to teenagers and seniors in college. Sometimes, people ask because they want a specific answer, or at least an answer that meets their level of approval. When a response is given, too often does the questioner scoffs and afford the one being questioned only 2 options: 1) to feel shame 2) to feel like they need to defend the given answer because it’s not good enough.
In Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please she comments on this topic and says that we should stop asking kids what they want to do and start asking them what they don’t want to do, or what they would do anything to avoid. Her point is that the same results are achieved, but it takes a shame and pressure off of the person being questioned. Sometimes we don’t really know what we want, but we know what we don’t want and it’s easier to give that answer. Because you see, the question should have virtually nothing to do with the person doing the asking. Rather, it should everything to do with the person being asked. Likewise, the answer should have the same effect. If I ask an 8 year old boy what he wants to be when he gets older, and I don’t like the answer he gives me, what right do I have to scoff or make him feel bad for wanting to be a Professional Tree Climber?
I think the reason that we as questioners get frustrated with the answer “Professional Tree Climber,” is because we have an idea of what a Professional Tree Climber might do and we don’t like or understand that role. In my mind, a Professional Tree Climber scurries up and down trees all day. That’s it. Well, I suppose maybe he would be searching for something or getting a better view of something, but essentially his job would require a lot of physical activity, be extremely dangerous, and virtually have no point. However, I am not a Professional Tree Climber, so I can’t rightfully react to this title without more information.
Currently, in my life, I am a Professional Tree Climber and society is a Scoffing Questioner. Not too long ago I wrote a blog about what I do, but I didn’t specifically talk about the job or really go into detail about how beautiful it is. So, that’s what I’m going to do now. Some of you that are reading this post may have an exact idea of what it is that I do. Great! Others of you may have an idea, but are still kind of confused about how exactly a paid position exists to get coffee with people on a regular basis. Fine. Lastly, there may be some of you that really have no idea what I do. Okay. Hopefully, with this last blog post of my “Discovering Beauty” series, you’ll all have a better idea of what it means to be an RUF Intern.
In case you missed the metaphor, I’m not really a Professional Tree Climber; however, I am a Professional Friend of sorts. I’m also a Professional Listener, Professional Question Asker, Professional Coffee Drinker, and Professional Lunch Eater. Yes, that is what I do. I listen, ask questions, drink coffee, and eat lunch. Sounds pretty simple, huh?
It’s not. But it is beautiful.
If you’ve been to college, or gone to any form of school, you’ll know that having a place and group of people to belong to is really important. It’s important in grade school for sure, but I think it’s even more important in college. College is the time that you take everything you’ve been taught, in and out of the classroom, for the past 13 years and put it to the test–but there’s a catch, you’re doing this as thousands of other people around your age are trying to take what they’ve learned and put it to the test. You’ve suddenly stepped into a world where opportunities and chances and circumstances and ideas that you never thought were possible, suddenly appear at your fingertips. It’s a really exciting and scary time.
As an intern, it’s my job to dive back into this world that I just graduated from only months ago and help students–mainly college freshman–navigate their way through this new kingdom they’ve been given charge over, all while reminding/showing them that Jesus loves them and is for, not against, them. It’s hard work, y’all.
Diving back into this world means…
that I am faced with temptations that I forgot I faced while I was in college.
that I have to figure out what to do with having the same amount of free time as a college student, but not having the same responsibilities
that I have to come to terms with the fact that I have left this world I became so fond of, yet separate myself ever so slightly as to remain a professional reputation (because I am representing an organization that is paying me).
that I have to see, all over again, the hardships and frustrations of college I couldn’t wait to escape
that I have to have conversations that I just don’t want to have
that I have to revolve my schedule around undergraduate classes
that I have to fight the urge not to slip back into old undergraduate habits I used to own
Diving back into this world means so many things that aren’t easy. Like I said, it’s hard work. We never really like to do the things that we have to do. But on the flip side of this post college, vocational coin, there are several things that I get to do. The beautiful things.
I get to make college students smile on a dreary day or after they’ve finished a really hard exam by bringing them cookies.
I get to pay attention and respect girls that may not have really had many people do that for them before.
I get to support students in their musical passions as I watch them perform on stage.
I get to watch friendships bloom.
I get to encourage students and let them know that I’m praying for them.
I get to point students to Scripture and share the grace and love of Jesus with them.
I get to laugh with girls as we create inside jokes and talk about boys.
I get to give rides to students when they need to get away from campus for a bit.
I get to share meals and warm drinks with students and talk about anything from the latest pop song release to the meaning of sanctification.
I get to be someone freshman confide in and seniors can relate to.
I get to be someone that these girls look up to (even if I don’t feel like I’m worth of such an honor)
I get to make my students laugh
I get to show my students that I’m not perfect
Being an RUF Intern is one of the best things I have decided to do. This job is one of the greatest experiences I’ve had because it combines so much ugly and brokenness and throws it against the majesty and kindness of Jesus Christ. What a joy it is to be a part of it all. I don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I hope that I get to be a part of something as amazing as this.
So there you have it. Being an RUF Intern, a Professional Friend, is more than meets the eye. It’s more than I thought and it’s more than me. It’s a beautiful job and I love it.
Thank You for this job & everything I’m learning from and through it.]