Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Hi! I’m Lauren Mulcahy, the VISTA Leader with Volunteer Maryland. I am excited for the chance to blog about my role here, but have decided for my first entry to reflect upon the very beginning of my AmeriCorps story.

A couple of years ago, I was in a rut. I was in a seemingly endless cycle of changing my mind about what to do ‘when I grow up’, which led to multiple school and major changes. I had a lot of interests for sure, but I was searching for a passion and nothing quite panned out. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the best thing for me was to take time off of school to work and discover my motivations. The method of “I’m good at X, that should be my career!” was clearly not working. After all, no amount of skill should lead a tendonitis-laden young woman with extreme stage fright to major in music. Trust me.

I found myself working at a place I really loved, surrounded by amazing people. At the end of each day, however, I felt like I was wasting my time. Sure, the bills were getting paid, but I wasn’t exactly contributing to the world around me. I wanted to volunteer with an organization in a meaningful way, but was too caught up in other things to find the time and energy. At the same time, I was also really struggling with the fact that I had never lived alone or taken any real risks. I am infinitely grateful for the willingness of those around me to provide support, but I needed to be on my own.

Quickly, my thoughts turned to AmeriCorps. It would certainly fulfill my desire to volunteer full-time, plus the one-year duration gave me the ability to move with the option of coming right back. Throw in the education award for returning to school, and what’s not to love?

To make a long story short, I took a VISTA position at a small family mentoring organization in Baltimore City. Six weeks later I drove to Baltimore, where I’d never been, with my car full of boxes and ready to start an adventure. I’d not seen my apartment, not met my supervisor in person, knew no one within several hundred miles and wasn’t sure what the job would entail. Already though, I had accomplished one of my major goals. Risk taken? Check.

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