Starting a new RARE AmeriCorps position in a new community is like going to the Cheesecake Factory for the first time. You open those big doors, walk in with confidence, and boom! – Nobody notices you. – Everyone is running AROUND you, with little regard of how overwhelmed you suddenly feel.
You are shown to a booth with hundreds of pages of information to read and study before you even have time to catch your breath. What you find is an enticing list of familiar, yet decadent opportunities to make this a great adventure. Yes, there are a million things to read and learn but you slightly remember these dishes from other restaurants. And as you absorb all of the information, your confidence grows because things start to relate; dots are connecting; you can handle this menu.
You’re given your projects and take off in confidence because you have found your “À la mode”. You start working on your projects, one of which actually has you getting more people involved in this community. But then you start to notice a little boredom catching fire. The hustle and bustle swirling around you doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore and you find yourself wanting to be a part of it. So, what do you do? You get involved with other co-workers and organizations to see what they have on their plate. You spot something that looks good; a visioning session for your downtown. You can handle that. You realize you are leading yourself through this adventure. But you’ve got it. Maybe at first you felt like a pain for everyone else but they keep feeding you with new things to do and you now know you play an important role in this jumbled mess of a well-functioning restaurant.
Eventually you catch stride. You even decide to order a big piece of cheesecake for dessert because biting off something more than you can handle doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. You will finish that piece of cheesecake and look back on the time you’ve spent here up to this point. You will definitely be coming back because yea it’s overwhelming and challenging in every aspect, but what fun is a RARE experience if it’s easy getting through?
About the Author: After earning her master’s degree in Sustainable Development and Policy from the University of Illinois, Katelynn Essig moved from the great plains of Springfield, IL to Oregon City, OR where she is serving as the Economic Development Assistant in the RARE AmeriCorps Program. Katelynn’s interests include building local economies, marketing, and website design. In her free time, you will find Katelynn exploring her new community and perusing the mountainside, something that is brand new to this Midwestern girl.