Since we’re a ways through this year of service, I’d like to share a collection of some of the lessons **I’ve learned** since the start of this year:
1: Carry deodorant with you wherever you go. LA is hot and swampiness is inevitable.
2: Triple check to ensure that your car is in the correct gear (especially when you’re on a slope) BEFORE you release the brake. Just trust me.
3: Don’t be afraid of meeting new people. They’re just as afraid of you, if not more.
4: Always try to be authentically yourself. Don’t conflate or downplay your personality while making a first impression. Be you.
5: On your first day of work you will either be severely over-dressed or under-dressed. Make peace with this fact. It will be okay, you can bounce back from this faux pas with a can-do attitude and a great work ethic.
6: Your tap card is a gift. Cherish it.
6a: At some point, someone is likely to ask to borrow YOUR tap card. Go ahead and do it if you want, but get that thing back as soon as possible! Don’t let someone hang onto your card. Really, don’t do it.
7: Unhappy? Speak up. Frustrated? Speak up. Mad? Speak up. Need some space, some solitude, some gosh-darn peace and quiet for once, I mean JEEZ people?! Speak up.
7a: No one can read your mind, and no one can know what you need until you ask for it. If you’re always holding your tongue (for whatever reason you might have), people won’t be able to hear you or help you. It’s as simple as that. It’s always better to speak up and air your grievances than to let it stew. So speak up.
8: Nobody owes you anything. By that I mean that you are not the end-all, be-all, supreme leader of the universe, and you shouldn’t expect people to treat you as such. Just because you want something or just because you’re expecting something, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it, and no one owes it to you. Be extra grateful when you do get what you’re looking for.
9: You don’t owe anybody anything. By that I mean no one is entitled to your time, your energy, your thoughts, your advice, your love, your help, your anything. Yeah, it’s nice to give and to offer those gifts you’re blessed with to those around you in need, but it’s so important to make sure there’s enough left for you. If you expend all of your energy taking care of others, you won’t have enough to take care of yourself. At that point, you and everyone else is out of luck, anyways! Take care of yourself.
10: Don’t make assumptions. This is an easy one that I’m always trying to get better at, but it remains to be one of the most important rules. When you make assumptions about others, you close yourself off to the possibility of meeting someone new and truly giving them a fair chance. When you make snap judgements of people before you really even get to know them, it’s like you’ve put on sunglasses; you can only see them now through the filter you’ve fabricated. And although it’s important to remember this rule when meeting new people, it’s also important to keep this in mind when doing a little introspection. Don’t make assumptions about yourself, either. When you do this, you limit the growth, learning, understanding, adventures, and abilities you could be capable of, if only you’d given yourself the chance to try. We are all always growing and learning, so don’t assume that you’re the same person you’ve always been. Give yourself a chance. Who knows? You just might surprise yourself.
(**Sidenote: Just because I’ve learned these lessons doesn’t mean that I’ve mastered them (not even close!). I’m still learning and growing, and making mistakes and recovering. The important thing is to give yourself some room, some grace, some patience. Chill, yo.)
Voices of Service
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee Year and the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service. For more, go through our archives below