What Happens in Vegas
I have many friends who recently graduated and have taken jobs, internships and opportunities far from home. I, on the other hand, recently accepted a job working in a kindergarten classroom as an assistant at a private school in my Louisiana hometown, Shreveport.
I have to be honest, though: I’ve been struggling lately with wondering if it was the right decision.
Not because I don’t think I’ll like what I’ll be doing. Not because it’s one of the best schools in this area. Not because the people who work here seem to be professional, helpful and wonderful people whom I can’t wait to work with. No, it’s none of those things.
Really, it’s because I’m afraid of getting stuck.
I’m afraid of getting comfortable. I’m afraid of not growing. I yearn for new and exciting experiences.
I didn’t particularly want to spend my first year after college living at home, going to my job every day second-guessing whether this was the right decision for me.
I began envisioning myself going to work, coming home and spending my evenings and weekends living vicariously through my friends who moved away while I sit on my couch watching reruns of The Bachelorette. I’m 22 years old, single and I have absolutely nothing holding me here.
Why did I just accept a job here when I could literally go anywhere?
But, life is funny sometimes, and I truly believe that God has a plan far bigger and better than what I could even imagine.
And on July 3rd I received a Facebook message that calmed the anxious thoughts that had been clouding my mind the past few weeks.
It was a normal day. I was doing laundry and planning what I was going to be doing for the Fourth of July holiday (which consisted of hanging out with my family… shocker, I know). Suddenly, I received a Facebook message.
“Hi Kaitlyn… we have a sudden opportunity for you to experience a conference in Vegas next week if you are available. One of our teachers fell and broke her foot today and is no longer able to go. I don’t have your number with me at home. Will you please call me?”
I had to reread it to make sure I had read it correctly. My first thought: “Things like this never happen to me.” My second thought: “Oh... That poor teacher who broke her foot.” (Yes, in that order.) This was an incredible opportunity. No second-thoughts: I was going to Vegas.
And like that, what I assumed to be a mellow Fourth of July turned into me packing for a trip to Vegas.
(Laugh out loud at life.)
I was thrown into a professional world for a position I hadn’t even started yet. That in itself was a little intimidating. I was also going to be traveling with the Kindergarten teacher I will be working with this school year whom I had only met once in my interview. I was both excited and nervous.
But I kept reminding myself of the one piece of advice that I have always found to be true: When we are outside of our comfort zones, we grow the most.
The conference I attended was “I Teach K!”. It’s basically a place where Kindergarten teachers join together in their mutual love for early childhood education, bettering themselves as educators and apple fashion. (Just kidding about the apple fashion. Except, that actually is a choice for some. To each their own).
I gained knowledge from professionals who have been in this business for 30+ years. It was four days of conference session, early childhood bliss. Although at times it was overwhelming, I was intrigued with every discussion. It inspired me and pumped me up for my position. I was even more amazed at the role that teachers play; they are some of the hardest working and passionate professionals. So make sure you thank a teacher after reading this.
This trip turned out to be the perfect way for my co-worker and I to become acquainted. After all, it’s impossible not to get to know someone when you travel to Vegas and share a hotel room. (Shout out to Bria! You rock!) We started off as mere strangers and are now bonded over our love for FRIENDS, Michael Jackson, selfie sticks, Frozen Hot Chocolate and Asian tourist groups.
Most importantly, this trip eased my anxiety. How many 22 year-old college graduates get to experience such an amazing opportunity for professional development?! I am now certain of my decision to accept this job and stay in Shreveport.
I’m starting to realize that we limit ourselves when we only associate growth and experience with moving away to new places.
There is plenty of room for growth right where we are. As the saying goes, bloom where you are planted. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. (And sometimes it takes a trip to Vegas to remind us of this.)
There is nothing wrong with where I am right now. It feels good to say that and even better truly believe that.