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serendipity2014 Offline
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Question Going through a change/learning - September 18th 2014, 03:55 PM

Hi everyone! I'm here because I'm going through some changes that are tricky, and I'm looking for some support while I go through them. My hope is to get my mind a little clearer by writing, and maybe some of you have been through similar changes and can offer a supporting cheer(woohoo!) or sound advice. Also, if this happens to help anyone in their thoughts and making sense of life, then great .

I just got back from being support staff at a program at school that welcomes incoming freshmen and takes them on week(ish)-long wilderness trips. It was super awesome, and we as support staff got to go out into the field(the national parks where we were staging everything) and hike, chill with each other, and be in our support roles. It was super fulfilling, in the sense that it was an environment where, when i got there, there were lots of people that i could meet, and from there it was up to me to meet these people. it turns out that this isn't as hard as I thought! I guess I'm finally ready to really absorb this life lesson. I met some awesome people(the leadership leading the wilderness trips) who were undergrads(i just graduated and am coming back to school). it was awesome just being able to meet all these people. part of it, i think, is the environment, where from the top down, the coordinating(older and in charge) staff really make the culture friendly, inclusive, growth-oriented, and a place where people can look to further their leadership skill with practice, if they want to. I think leadership is the perfect thing for me at this point in my life. I thought I wanted to lead this year, but I was unprepared for my WFA course(wilderness first aid). that's totally o.k., and in fact good, because it gave me a chance to fail at something and learn from it on my own, without any input from my parents, who had been making the important decisions in my life for a long time. Well, not anymore! One of the changes that I'm currently going through is getting used to making decisions about my life for myself, which is a hugely liberating thing, and so so precious and sacred to me. Anyways, I wanted to lead a trip this year, but was unprepared, but I think it was good to do baby steps and assume so more responsibility in terms of driving to the parks(which is the most dangerous part of the wilderness experience, statistically). Mixed in with this, I'm trying to take more responsibility. And what this means is that there's this great community of people who are working together to make something happen(building the outdoor program at school), and they believe it's really important to give kids a place where they can practice building judgment and grow. It's great, because I feel like I'm joining a community that's all about growth, learning, and helping others. I've never been part of a community like that before, and it's super important to me. It's sacred.

During the program, there was fall(autumn) training, where there were tasks to do throughout the day, down time, and we'd meet in the morning and maybe later in the day to go over the day's plans, or just to check in. It was nice to have little tasks to do. One thing I loved was that some of the other staff put on music while we did this(and i happened to love their musical taste, even though i didn't know all the songs they were playing). we all ended up dancing to it while doing the tasks, which probably made them more enjoyable.
Also, there was the spirit that we were all contributing to something big and worthwhile, i.e. welcoming the freshman and framing their experience at school in a super positive, generally good way. And that was rewarding.

The field:
After 5 days(5 days of prep on campus, and then 5 days in the field, with one day after, back on campus), we left for the field. I think it was generally great to be around such positive people who were serious in a way about making this an awesome experience, but also goofy and silly and able to dance and have fun. That's one of the things that I want to foster and be around more in my daily life. It felt good to be taking responsibility for getting the freshmen to their wilderness start locations(for the ones travelling by backpack), or to their base-camping locations. And meanwhile, it felt good to be around these awesome people and helping them as possible and generally being a part of this. We got up to base-camp, where we'd do tasks like drive groups out to day-hike locations, where we would go with them. Now that I think about it, getting out to those locations was an awesome thing, and something that I miss. They were beautiful. Maybe my life/the activities that I choose to do can morph into something more like that. Anyway, we'd also go on day-hikes as staff, which was awesome too, because we would do things that I didn't think I could do, and I was pretty much going one step at a time, but in the end, I did it, and I saw people around me doing it, and that was super rewarding.
In the field, we would get up around everyone else, say hi/good morning to them , maybe hug them affectionately, and them get started with morning tasks, like boiling water for breakfast. We'd cook every meal ourselves, which I realized during fall training is something that is a hugely positive thing in my life. I think it's being around food in general, but maybe there's something substantial to be said about doing it with other people, to try to prepare something awesome that we can eat(and be creative with it), all the while exercising/practicing judgment about what's feasible given the time we have and what we want to accomplish that day. Also, making something awesome with people, and then getting to share it to others, which sometimes makes them happier, is awesome. So that's another reason why this was something I liked.(I like helping people feel better in general, and also getting isolated chances to be creative, where the stakes are there, but aren't life and death). Maybe there's something to be said about a stratification of "importance" in terms of these learning tasks, from deathly important(like driving), and not so "life-and-death" important like making watercolor postcards for people.(I asked another staff member if she could model for me - i ended up just getting glimpses of her, but the postcard turned into something that she liked, so i liked having that experience. Then another staff member asked me to do her, and so it was something creative that I was able to do, to help other people feel better.)
And in general, there was an attitude that staff was there do tasks, but there was an attitude where people were intentionally asking other people if they needed help, and that we all really wanted to do these things to make this bigger thing happen. So I think that's important too, framing things in that way. And maybe that can be had more generally from volunteer work.
Also, before and after the whole experience, one of the coordinator staff spoke to as a group and thanked us for helping and said that all this stuff wouldn't be possible without us, and just in general was appreciative. I really like this. I think it's important to be appreciative to people in general.
And just as another face of the prism that is this experience, I loved getting to know the other staff that went to the same wilderness base-camp "command center" as I did. I made friends with them, and we did these things called "Spotlights" where people would get however long they wanted to just talk about their own lives. I took this to be an opportunity to get to know these people better, and framed my spotlight in a way that was like: i had the inkling/sense that the other people wanted to get to know me a bit better, so I wanted my spotlight to be in service of that. Anyways, we gained more insight and empathy into each other in this way, among others. One thing I'd end up doing alot is asking people how they're doing if they looked a little off or peaky, or just giving people hugs if I thought it looked like they needed them, or for no reason at all. I think having the environment and possibilities to be creative about helping other people and helping them feel loved is really important. And it's not a black and white thing, i.e. we can all start doing that right now, but it can be greatly helped by us intentionally choosing which activities we do and don't want in our lives, based on if they feel like they are helping or hurting us achieve the goals that we're currently thinking about, which comes down to being aware of our feelings, and using our experience.

The point is, there's something about being staff at this program that is hugely beneficial to my life, that I don't currently have, with the habits and activities that are in place in my usual day-to-day life. This is something I really want to change. (i just am in contact with my parents at home from Friday to Monday, and then I go down to school from Tuesday to Thursday and stay there for that period) This is a change that I really want to learn about and effect in my life, for the things in my life that need to be put into effect, or done differently.

If you're reading this and feel like you understand, what are your thoughts? I'm super excited to hear whatever you have to say. Take care everyone, stay safe, and love you all .
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Going through a change/learning - September 19th 2014, 12:33 PM

Hey there,

I think I can understand how you are feeling and what you are going through!

Being on support staff and on that programme sounded amazing! Iím actually a bit jealous Itís definitely something I would be interested in doing. Itís like growing confidence, developing skills and making friends and having a laugh along the way. For me, personally, I donít have much confidence or skills, and Iím more of a Ďfollowerí than a Ďleaderí but I realise that I want to be more of a leader now that I am growing up and hoping to pursue a teaching career.

Itís natural that at our age, we want to become more independent and start making our own choices. Like you not being prepared for your WFA course, I wasnít prepared for my teaching course. I took a year out (against my mumís will) so that I could spend more time doing work experience in classrooms and developing my confidence. It is a very liberating experience to make decisions on your own, but I think at the same time we should not forget advice from family and friends. Itís also very good to take things in baby steps, otherwise we can get overwhelmed.

Belonging to a community is definitely a very nice feeling, especially one where you strive to achieve a goal, and develop skills along the way. I havenít really been part of a community like that either. I can also understand that the staff can make things more enjoyable. In the summer, I did some volunteering with a few other people and we had a laugh along the way. Itís just really nice when you can be doing something purposeful and make friends as well. Itís just such a nice feeling!

It is also very rewarding when you do something that you didnít think you could, and also see other people achieve the same thing. There is also a rewarding feeling when you prepare your own meals from scratch and manage the resources around you. On the rare occasion I have been left to Ďfend for myselfí I ended up just eating microwaveable food, which apart from not being very filling, it was also nothing to be proud of I am yet to develop this skill haha. And sharing is always a good thing!

The Ďspotlightí sessions you described sound very interesting! You can learn a lot from listening to others as well as talking about your own life. I think that the way you described it was much better than the Ď3 facts about yourselfí I had to do when starting university and sounds like you get more of a chance to get to know others. You also sound like a really nice person, being empathetic and understanding of others and when they might not be feeling themselves. Thatís always a good quality that is often overlooked.

Helping others and having a caring atmosphere is a great thing to aim for and is very rewarding when you achieve this. However, it is still important that you donít forget about yourself! Helping others is great but you also need to look after yourself and take time for yourself and do things that make you happy (not just for other peopleís sake). It may seem a bit selfish, but you donít want to get all Ďburnt outí helping others and not doing something for yourself, even though you feel good helping others. But yes, I agree with what you are saying about being in touch with your own feelings and experiences to make good judgments on what activities we should do and donít, for goals as well as pleasure.

To sum it up, I think what you are experiencing is a sense of purpose, that what you do is important (though not life and death), makes others happy and is helpful, whilst enjoying yourself at the same time? As well as making your own decisions, developing confidence, skills and making friends? That sounds like a very healthy and developing attitude to have, so I commend you on that!

You say though that this is missing from your everyday life and Iím wondering if there are ways to implement this (or parts of it) into your life? Most of the feelings you have described can be found in volunteering schemes, so keep an eye out for others in the future. As for belonging to a community, you could join clubs/groups that you are interested in. It might not give you the same community feeling with purpose like what you experienced, but it is a community nonetheless. Could you get in touch with the other staff members and try to arrange another activity? I think perhaps once you find things that could help you achieve your feelings and goals, then you could start trying to fit them into your life. If you wanted, you could always join staff here at TeenHelp

Whatever happens, Iím cheering you on (whoooo!)
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