Today is a pretty good day to get back into the swing of my gratitude challenge.
Ten years ago, I was a very different person.
I had just finished my junior year of high school. I had long, black hair. I wore four-inch platform heels and knee socks with bows and too much eye makeup (well, that last part hasn't changed that much.) I stayed up until 4 in the morning and ate like a starving artist, living on coffee and cheese sandwiches from sun up to sun down. I had just had a "friendship breakup" with someone who had become very close to me and was feeling a little lost. I didn't know Jess or Zach or Hannah or any of these other lovely people that have come into my life since then. Brandon wasn't even on my radar. I spent the first days of my summer break sleeping as late as possible and devoted the hours that followed to absorbing as many books and as much cable TV as I could. It was the age of AIM and screen names and no facebook (for high schoolers, anyway) and only texting every once in a while, because text messages cost money and most of us didn't have any sort of allowance for that on our parents' cell phone plans.
And ten years ago today was the very first day of my very first job. On June 20, 2005, I started working at the library.
A lot has changed since then. Not just in my personal life, in a lot of ways. Brandon and I eventually got together. I graduated high school went to college for a while, got married, had a few surgeries, lived without my parents for the first time, bought a house, got diagnosed with a few random things, went to Africa once and Disney World five times. Career-wise, I took a promotion after a year of work, had three different managers, had the rug pulled out from under me, and got reminded that, even though I'm not in 7th grade anymore, people can still be bullies and the world is not a fair place. I transferred to another place and now I am so, so happy. Still neurotic and anxious and stressed (I think those are part of my DNA), but happy (with work, anyway.) I have wonderful new friends. My work load is lighter, because I have a good and fair manager and sane coworkers. I have fun at work. I think people appreciate having me around- at least I keep them entertained. I feel welcome and wanted, and that's amazing. Even though I want to make more money by working a full-time job, I'm glad that I was able to move to a safer location, rather than leaving the library completely, because libraries have always been so important to me. Reading is a big deal in my family, and I've been a faithful patron since kindergarten. I love libraries and I'm lucky I get to work somewhere I love.
Ten years working in one place. Sometimes I feel weird about it- like, if I run into someone I haven't seen in a long time, it feels strange to say "I'm still at the library," like I should be embarrassed about it. A lot of people would be unhappy with themselves, working at the same place they've worked since high school. And I do struggle with it sometimes (I wouldn't mind as much if my debt was paid off and the rest of my life was like I want it to be.) But I've got it pretty good. I'm guaranteed the same number of hours every week. I don't have to worry about being downsized or let go for arbitrary reasons, because of the way my job is structured and the protections that are in place. My hourly pay is pretty good, for the skill level and education requirements. And it's hard to find part-time customer service jobs with benefits like mine. I was the only person in my senior class in high school that had paid vacation sick time, and government holidays. That's a sweet deal. And I get to have fun at work, not just with my coworkers. I get to know families I care about. I get to talk about books and share my experiences with others. My favorite part is talking to the kids, because we have a lot in common and they think I'm pretty cool because of that.
So I'm grateful for my job. I'm grateful that it helps me pay the bills. I'm grateful it's stable and steady, and I'm grateful for the good things it's brought to my life.