My sophomore year of college, I sat amongst other aspiring journalists in my News Writing course, feeling as though I couldn’t identify with the competitive atmosphere or adhere to the ramblings of my peers about their futures and well-thought-out professional goals. All I knew was that I liked writing and that I was fairly good at it. As it turned out, I couldn’t handle to write within the constraints of the publishing industry’s standards. Sure, you learn to work within it and find ways to shock your readers or provide humor without breaking any of the cardinal rules. I have quite a bit of patience when it comes to anything not involving my endlessly updating HP laptop that I want to gently toss into a brick wall. I also didn’t have patience for writing within journalistic standards. I remember during the first week in News Writing, we went around the room and shared our professional goals. I felt inadequate. I didn’t know. We were told “I don’t know” wasn’t an answer and that you have to have some sort of long-term goal. I beg to differ that at age 18 “I don’t know” is not an answer. But I didn’t know. I was a sophomore in college who entered college wanting to be a physician’s assistant. Clearly… I just didn’t know. I answered. I was immediately made to feel embarrassed by what I had shared… a fear of mine when publicly sharing my thoughts aloud. I shared that I wanted to move to a big city and write for a magazine. At the time, I was fully engaged in the alternative music scene, so of course I wanted to write for Rolling Stone or Alternative Press or something else I was equally unqualified to do. I also wanted to move to a big city because that’s where the life was! The opportunities! The culture! The glamour! Like I said.. I clearly just didn’t know. Something I’ve learned in my 27 years, but mostly has become clear in the past 2 or 3, is that it’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to think one thing and then a year later, think something entirely different. Of course certain things are very clear to me and my feelings are unwavering– the love for my family, for one. And two, my love for meaningful work involving creativity, promotion, and writing. The experiences we encounter and ways we live shape and reshape our thoughts, which in turn shape and reshape our actions, which in turn shape and reshape our goals. When I was 18, I remember confidently stating I never wanted to get married or have children. The confinement! How stifling! Edna Pontellier was clearly a role model. (Any Kate Chopin fans out there?) It doesn’t take everyone this long to find their life’s path, but for those who have to journey through the raging river of doubt and confusion, we need the time to experience and decide.
In my attempts to become more stable in my decisions, I once tried to convince Aric into staying in Omaha and “just getting a job” but I’m glad he stuck to what he is most passionate about. It led us to Custer, SD, then to Denver, CO, and now to the Iowa Great Lakes in Northwest IA. I may just be along for the ride, but all along he has known exactly what he wants to do. And that is precisely working to restore tallgrass prairies in his home state of Iowa. Of course this will include right of ways, oak savannas, and wetlands and this will also mean a big challenge ahead of managing a position for the Dickinson County Conservation Board which has not been previously filled, or at least not in the same capacity. I am so proud of Aric for wowing the board with his knowledge of plant species, effective management plans, and passion for this work. Like I said, I may just be along for the ride, but along the way I’ve found that the Midwest is where I belong and I wouldn’t have figured that out if it weren’t for Aric’s leading us
around the world to states only bordering Nebraska. Now I’m confident in saying there’s nothing I want more than to be a part of the community in a way similar to my involvement in Custer. Hiking on the weekends. Home improvements (eventually, but we are painting some walls in our rental). Cooking and grilling out. Spending time with our pups, even when Archie is whining or when Hank is getting injured. Canoeing and tanking on the Little Sioux River. Now it might be far from the lavish nights on the town or hipster-centric establishments that were once appealing to me, but this suits my heart & soul.
And that to me is enough.