In one of my favorite books (that first fired my imagination and passion for travel), there is a passage in which the author, Alice Steinbach, asks a shepherd about his sheepdogs:
"Do you ever think of your dogs - say, when they're off duty - as pets?"
"...when they're pups we do rear them as pets in the house for nine to ten months. I believe champions are made in the house. The dogs learn manners, the kids play with them, and they learn to be around people. I think it's important they be raised in the house."
"How do young dogs raised in a house for almost a year take it when they're put out?" I asked. "One day they're a pet, the next day they're a working dog."
Mark answered my question with one word: "Hard."
Something about this passage really struck me, for two reasons:
1) For the last few weeks, I've been learning to train dogs at an animal shelter I volunteer at. And there is something magnificent about watching a dog that has been broken in and trained to behave beautifully.
2) Entering the workforce proper, especially at an age where I am constantly reminded of how young I am, feels a lot like being "broken in".
One day I'm a college student with the time to bake and cook and blog and do a million and one things, and the next day I'm a working girl with a fixed daily schedule. How did I take it?
You guessed it - Hard.
But just as the sheepdogs eventually come to enjoy their work - because that is essentially what they are bred and born to do, I'm starting to feel the same way about mine.
Yes, it's hard to be passionate about the minute, mundane details of a corporate desk job. But it's in the little details that I'm starting to find opportunities to develop skills that will help me in the long run. Like patience, attention to detail, and learning to find joy even in routine and repetition. Like the art of pursuing excellence in every tiniest detail. Like being able to see the long-term vision even when there's not very much tangible evidence of it in the present.
I definitely have my work cut out for me. There is so much to learn as I'm put through the paces of the working world, and although it sometimes gets overwhelming, it mostly feels good to be at this place.
It's beginning to feel natural and that's when I realize that this is what my upbringing and my education has been preparing me to do.
It dawned on me that this is the next level. I've reached it.
Suddenly, everything I've been through in the previous level seems insignificant and small. And it feels good to know that I've reached where I am supposed to be.
These days, I'm getting excited when things feel hard - because the hard bits are because I don't know. I don't know - because there are lots of new things to learn. There are lots of new things to learn - because I've reached a new level.
And guess what? The view always looks better from higher up.
It's a harder climb, yeah. But it sure is a heck of a greater view. I find myself reaching for bigger goals and dreaming bigger dreams from here than I ever dared to dream or reach for before.
What are you finding hard in your life right now?
Could it be the reason you're going through that tough time is because you're about to move on to the next level?
What's your next level?
And if you knew you WILL reach that next level, would the difficulty be worth it?
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. -Robert Brault
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson
There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. -William John Bennett
A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands. -William Lyon Phelps