Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I'm annoyed.

About a month ago, before I left my job, I put in an online application to volunteer at Ellis Island. I figured it would be a good way to satisfy my Junior Park Ranger jones, and I'd get to learn more about a very interesting historical location. And, of course, it would also assure that I had a reason to be out of the house in the event I hit a rough patch (read 'slough of despond') during my reboot.

When I applied, I got an automated response saying that someone would be in touch with me within ten business days. That was August 6. I still hadn't heard anything last week but figured they were busy, the volunteer coordinator was on vacation, what have you. Nonetheless, I called and left a message on her voice mail. I got no response.

I was about to drop it when I realized that volunteering at Ellis Island is something I want to do, and it's foolish just to assume that it wasn't meant to be. Today I called again and got the coordinator on the phone, and she directed me to apply online. Okay, I already did; maybe my application got lost? She asked which website I used. Uh, the National Park Service site? She told me to go to volunteer.gov and fill out the form there. Okay... whatever. In the time she took to explain the process, she could have interviewed me and made a determination.

It's the government, so naturally the website she sent me to led me to the exact place where I'd posted my application. Rather than debate it, I'll just resubmit. And call again.

Once I was past the initial frustration, I started thinking about the excuses I make for not achieving what I really want in life. It's always been an issue. I was the classic B+ student who could have gotten straight A's if I just put in a little more effort. A lot of times, when I've haven't gotten results after a token stab, I've just let it slide. I've gotten into some pretty good situations without much effort, so maybe I concluded that as far as I'm concerned, results are more about luck than hard work. Other times I could reason that I wasn't any worse off not getting something, because I didn't invest a lot of energy into it. But the old line stands true most of the time: you get out what you put into it.

As the reality of my situation sinks in, the nagging voice of compromise is already suggesting that I just look for the same kind of job I've been doing for the past umpteen years. I'm good at it, I've got a decent resume, maybe I just needed a little time off to clear my head. Jumping back into the same frying pan would be a hell of a lot easier -- and a lot less scary -- than exploring the infinite abyss of possibility. In the long run, it would just leave me even more annoyed and dissatisfied. (Decide in haste, repent at leisure.)

Change is not for wimps. Whether it's self-imposed or thrust upon you, it's your choice how to deal with it. I've made some strong statements about it. Now it's time to follow through.

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