When I clicked on Facebook today this picture showed up as a Timehop, but then my internet froze up and when it came back on the Timehop was gone. Since I wanted to see what I’d said about the picture I spent several minutes scrolling down through my feed until I found it. (The short amount of time it took me shows how much I don’t post on Facebook.)
Unsurprisingly to me, half of what I had on my feed involved me sharing about books, writing updates, or people tagging me with the same. The other half revolved around my traveling. For years those were the two things my world revolved around. And they were good years. And I’m very thankful for them.
In fact, when I got a “stationary” job at a coffee shop a couple years back, giving up traveling was something that I wasn’t looking forward to. I was used to being gone four or so months a year, jaunting off at the drop of a hat, and it was fun. I had lots of fantastic experiences, learned a ton, and built an amazing foundation on which to view the world.
It wasn’t long after I stopped traveling so much though, that I realized how much I liked routine. How much I enjoyed getting settled into everyday life and focusing more on what was close by instead of having a lot of experiences with the far away.
And now I’m sitting here writing paragraph after paragraph and then erasing them because I’m not really sure how to put my next thoughts into words. That could be because I just worked a ten-hour day after a hugely busy week, and so I’m tired.
But maybe that’s kinda my point – I’m having as much fun, making as many memories, and feeling just as fulfilled working full time in retail and not being able to travel much, as I did while working part-time and traversing literally all over the world.
Work isn’t always fun. But then, neither is traveling. Or anything for that matter.
I know I’m still basically a kid and I’m not here to hand out life advice because I know there are epically huge amounts of things I know nothing about… But one thing I have learned something about in my lifetime is the importance of mindset.
You don’t have to go somewhere to find adventure.
You don’t have to be better, smarter, or richer than everyone else in order to make a difference.
You don’t have to have everything perfect, hit 100% of your goals, or fit in to be content.
Sometimes making a difference consists more of smiling and calling out a cheery welcome then it does in saving a life, becoming famous, or writing a standing-ovation-worthy speech.
See, I do a lot of smiling right now. And to begin with, it didn’t feel like much.
To be totally real and vulnerable on here, when I moved to Kentucky to work I was excited because I knew I had a job where I could make a difference.
Then reality hit and as I stood in the bookstore and watched people buy more stuffed animals than books, I got a bit discouraged. (Which is kinda funny if you ask anyone who knows me because stuffed animals and I are basically besties.) But, as I scanned stuffed animals, trinkets, and t-shirts I let my mindset slip and I started thinking Wow, I gave up living near my family and friends for a whole summer for this?
After a few days of that, I realized the error of my way, and I began asking God to help me see from His perspective. To help me see that what I was doing really did make a difference. That no matter where it is, as long as I’m where God wants me, then what I’m doing is important and worthwhile.
And folks I’m slightly amazed by how fast God helped me change my perspective. Now each day when I head into work I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I consider it a privilege to smile at hundreds of people each day. To point out the bathroom, the guest service desk, or hunt through the bookstore to find an item they’re inquiring about.
See, I’m not just working in retail. I’m smiling, talking, and interacting with people who have eternal souls. I’m a friendly face that will help make an over-all experience with sometimes-hard-hitting-truth more positive for those seeking.
Sometimes I’m helping rude or impatient people and I have to silently remind myself that they’re made in God’s image and I need to show love regardless. Sometimes I’m tired, not feeling well, or overwhelmed and I have to sing praises to God under my breath. Sometimes I’m having a hard day and I have to ask God to give me grace and He does so in extraordinary ways (including mangers being super sweet and easy to work with when I’m going through stuff totally unrelated to work).
And sometimes I just have to simply remind myself that not everyone is a bookworm like me.
Those people who buy t-shirts and stuffed animals instead of books? Well, they don’t bother me anymore. See, I used to equate books with people caring about learning, but it finally hit me how narrow and rather snobby that view was.
Now when I see people buying trinkets instead of literature, I’m reminded that not everyone thinks like I do. Maybe that mug will remind the person of the truth of God’s Word every time the buyer drinks from it. Maybe those teens are buying t-shirts because they know it will spark conversations where they can share the truth. Maybe those kids who are hugging their stuffed animals will one day see the little bunny after a hard day at school where evolution is being taught as fact, and they’ll remember what they learned at the museum.
See, my job matters because the people I interact with matter. What I do each day can make a difference, because – small though it may be – each little element someone experiences combine to create an overall impression.
Now? Well, I’m delighted to sell postcards. I miss work on my off days. I feel honored to interact with people no matter how short of a time it is. Now I know I’m making a difference. I’m doing something special, worth-while, and rewarding.
Do I miss traveling? Eh, no. I mean, I kinda hope that I have another season of traveling in my life. But, if you were to ask me if I’d rather tour Europe or stay here at my job? Well, right now I’m exactly where I want to be.