At our weekly volunteer meeting last night, we discussed the idea of a ‘dream job’. We all went around the room, gushing about what careers we would want if we could defy the laws of money, time, physics, and general feasibility.
I would be a Broadway star, performing in all of my favorite musicals (Beauty and the Beast, Les Mis, and West Side Story), while also owning a coffee shop on the side that doubled as a library. It would have mahogany shelves, plush seat cushions, and countless window-reading-nooks. It would be the kind of place where you take a book and leave a book, students come for English tutoring, little kids are read stories by people who excel in character voices, college students study together, aspiring anythings dream over lattes, nerdy lovers come for a first date, and adults that are passionate about words and caffeine come to weekly book group meetings. We would have a coffee selection diverse enough to satisfy both the hipster aficionados and the pumpkin spice lovers. Our carrot cake and biscotti would be the best around and waffles (with a buffet of toppings) would also be served around the clock.
Snapping me out of my day-dream, Eric, our music teacher, chimed in with his usual deep thinking. If a job is a dream, he said, it isn’t a job. Work will always be hard. If it is always fun, if it is never difficult, if you never have to make sacrifices….then it isn’t work.
Now, I love my job. There are countless times I sit back and think, how did I get this lucky? To name a few….
- When I get to plan a haunted house and trick-or-treating for the most deserving kids
- When the second graders give me huge hugs and press their faces into my hands
- When it takes 12 girls pulling at my hair and poking my face with make up to get me ready for Diwali (and when I subsequently hand them my phone to take pictures and get it back with 600 new photos)
- When I get to interview pre-schoolers about what they want to be when they grow up
- When the 10th grade boys engage me in heated dinner debates about Edward Snowden (they think he’s a hero and I plan on handing it to them…)
- When students confide in me about their fears about graduating and fights with friends, as well as come to me to celebrate their accomplishments and joys
- When the kids leaving on a 2 and half day field trip tell me how much they are going to miss me and realizing that, after a day, I miss them that much too
I love these children more than I thought I was capable of loving so many students in such a short amount of time and the sentence, “This is Ms. D, she is our English teacher” fit me better than the fall sweaters I miss so much.
But there are also times that I am frustrated, run weary, and so homesick I could collapse. There are times I want to crawl into my room and not surface for days, tired of the constant running around and nagging feeling that I should always be doing something else. Some days, when my alarm clock goes off at 6, it takes all the energy I have to roll out of bed and put on a sweater. I had grand plans to invigorate my blog, detail everything about my experience, and read all of those books I have been telling myself I will read for years, but when the free-time I crave finally arrives…I usually spend it playing with the kids, sleeping or watching re-runs of FRIENDS while eating biscuits and nutella. Because, why not?
In typical 23 year old fashion, I worry that I will never find ‘the job’. You know, the job that makes you feel excited to go to work every single day, where the spark never dies and the romance always feels new. The job you will still be insanely attracted to when it has gained a few pounds, forgotten to shower, and started to reveal its shortcomings.
A job, like a marriage I think, is a choice. You have to choose to love it, choose to approach each day as an opportunity for something great. And, you also have to accept that it is going to be hard, that sometimes you might hate it, and instead of focusing on how it makes you happy, think about whether you are doing your best. If, at the end of the day, something fundamental is missing, then leave. But in an age of instant gratification and entitlement, I think we may be expecting too much of our jobs, and of our lives, too fast.
Broadway is probably never going to happen (you never know, right?), but the coffee shop still might. For now, though, I am India. I love my job, but it is still very much ‘work’. Some days I can’t imagine being anywhere else and some days it is a struggle. But I get to be with these guys every single day and that is enough to make me want to stay….until June! I have officially decided to stay for the spring semester at Shanti Bhavan and I could not be more excited. No matter how much work it is, it is worth it.
We needed some pictures for fundraising purposes and these were some of the candid ones. Please note how unamused Bharath, Ruchita and Shivaroshini (the babies) look.