I’ve learned a whole lot about myself during the last two months of my placement at Foreign Affairs. Things that I like and things that I don’t like. More than anything though, and this is because I’ve been working in a division that I don’t really belong in (right now), I’ve discovered how very important it is for me as a person to work in what I have a passion for.
I’ve been working in North American issues, and my heart is not in it. This could change, it could be because I’ve only worked in the division during a writ, but I am not excited. Yes it’s the division that has the most resources, and even a 1% change in our trade relations with the U.S. works out to be more than all our trade with China. The movers and shakers are here, and these issues are what gets attention from the media. So what?
In my work I need to have a tangible impact. I’m not a person driven by numbers or an increase in the amount of cows we can get across the border to be slaughtered and labelled under favourable conditions. I want to have an effect on people’s lives, and it just so happens that my interest lies in helping people in conflict situations. I want to be challenged to solve problems and find ways to make life better for people who face horrifying conditions. I want to defend human rights and international law. I need dynamic security issues to consider when making decisions, and I want to be under pressure to make the right call. Being on the ground and connecting with people and listening to them and collaboration is what I crave, not an office that’s too cold where I have to work in a cubicle in front of a computer, unable to escape the people talking about their kids and cats and how much they hate public transit.
All things considered, I don’t actually know where those motivations and interests would put me. I hate having to think about being slotted in somewhere in an organization, because I don’t want to be pigeon-holed in any aspect of my life and I don’t want to be trapped doing one thing. Dealing with the bureaucracy and rules about where and when I can and can’t go places pisses me off, and I’ve never been good at listening to procedures and people telling me I’m restricted to one thing. I reject that.
What I want the most is to have the passion and energy return to my life, because now that I feel it’s gone I don’t have motivation to pursue anything really. I come home at the end of the day, exhausted and lately feeling desperately lost and confused at my place in this world, unwilling to face the things I normally would love. I’m in the middle of the editing process for two of my academic articles on drones- this is a topic I love but the fire is gone. The research project on human trafficking in the Horn of Africa that I’m supposed to be undertaking for State has been sadly neglected. In early September I had a ton of drive to study for the LSAT and take on the challenge, but that feeling has left me. All these things are topics I love and am passionate about pursuing, but when you’re stuck in a passionless job, it robs you of the ability to excel and explore your discipline and interests.
This experience in Ottawa has drained me of the seemingly endless energy I had last year, and it’s made me really sad more than anything else. It worries me because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get it back. Does this mean that when I’m out of school and working a 9-5 job the same thing will happen? Now that I know government might not be the place for me, where am I going to end up? What if I can’t find the place that gives me the energy to take on the world like I want to? How am I going to make this sporadic and unorthodox way of living work in ways that I can still have meaningful relationships instead of just superficially interacting with people at work and spending the weekends alone?
There are a lot of questions that I have, but I can’t answer them now. Ultimately, no one has the answers for me and the scary part is that I just have to trust myself to find the way, and eventually I always do. My biggest fear is not being happy because twice I’ve experienced that and it’s terrifying.
My dream is to work on the big issues, continue my incredible education and experience the world through the eyes of the people who are around me at any given time. I want to see the world and learn from locals and actually experience life. I am never more happy than when I’m in the airport going somewhere for a new opportunity and challenge. I never want my life to be mundane or stagnant.
I know I have the resilience to get to where I need to be and continually improve myself so that I have the skills I need to arrive. I’m often tested by the disappointments that come out of dreaming too big, and having too much hope, but that’s a product of putting myself out there and always pushing the limits. One of these days my big dreams are going to pay off and the right organization is going to say yes and recognize that I have a lot to bring. I’m not willing to sacrifice those dreams. I can feel it in my bones that I was made for huge things, I just have to get to the place where people start to realize what I’m capable of and the wait is the hardest part.
I’ll get the passion back by finding out how to do what I love, I’ll keep working on myself in the meantime, and I’ll have the last laugh one day when I’m doing big things despite all the rejection and let-downs I experience now.
Be exceptional rather than accomplished. My steps, which may lack concrete direction, never lack concrete reflection. The secret about failure is that failure is the secret to success. If the terrain and the map do not agree, follow the terrain.