Another Day, Another Storm

Hey blog fans, 
Just thought I’d update you all with a mid “work day” blog post. When I last updated you, we were finishing up our deployment in Baton Rouge, and started working at the Region 4 office in Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, I was assisting the Planning section by shuffling through old disaster files to see which files needed to be retired to Archives or destroyed. 

But now, I am sitting in our hotel in Port Richey, Florida, waiting out a tropical storm watch while Hurricane Matthew continues its path up the coast of Eastern Florida. My team and I are actually in Florida to help register those affected by Hurricane Hermine for FEMA assistance, but we’re thinking we may be moved over East to help with Hurricane Matthew once it passes. Never did I think I would be in Florida while one of the worst Hurricanes in decades is making it’s path on Florida. I am glad that my friends living on the East coast evacuated, and that their families and friends were not directly hit by Matthew. It’s a scary feeling watching the news and seeing the Eye of the Hurricane getting closer and closer to the coast. There’s nothing you can do while you watch and hope that the storm turns back towards the ocean. I think having friends down here so close to being affected puts this year of service into a whole new perspective. Yes, I have been deployed to 4 major active disasters and have seen the destruction, but I have only interacted with the strangers of these communities. As selfish as that sounds, you never think these disasters will effect your friends and families, but it makes this year of service that more eye opening. 

And now? There’s just one more month left of my year of service. I can already feel myself eating my words every single time I called home and whined about how much I couldn’t wait for this year to be over. Yes, this year might not have been everything I thought it would be, but in so many other ways it’s been more than I could have ever imagined. 

More than the experiences, more than the places I have been able to explore, this year has given me the opportunity of personal growth. It has motivated me to work towards things that will only help me in the long run. It has taught me to keep negative people out of my life, and to only work towards things that truly make me happy. 

But with any major experience, you leave and return home feeling like a new person. You arrive so excited to start new goals, and to show others just how much you have changed. You have new morals and new thoughts about life. But with that being said, you already know that after a couple weeks of returning home, you will slowly start to lose that newfound motivation, and your new ambitions will slowly start to disappear. A couple weeks after returning you will be sitting on your couch, while your dog stares back at you, wondering “where have you even been the past 10 months?” And then it’ll hit you. The words that are inevitably going to happen. Two little words that pack so much stress. A question that every one tries to escape. That being, 
“Now what?” 
Of course, the last round of our term of service focuses around what we call, “Life After AmeriCorps.” But even all the planning that we each put in will not completely prepare you for being through straight back into reality. I may know that I am returning back to school once I return, but there will be a lot of adjusting to a life outside of the AmeriBubble. How do I continue to keep myself motivated for personal growth? How do I turn off my brain from thinking of the endless career options AmeriCorps has shown me? How do I continue to work towards one tangible goal I had set for myself throughout the year? 
I guess the only way to answer these questions is to take a little bit of what I have learned this year. During the difficult times, the times I thought my day would never come to an end, the weeks that all of my plans were crushed, and the days where I felt like nothing good was ever going to happen during my term of service. I got so accustomed to the feeling that anything that made me happy this year, would just in turn be stripped away. But despite that all, I kept my head up, and continued on my path to personal growth. I continued to take things one day at a time, and I continued to not let negative emotions get the best of me. 

I know when I return home in a month, I will miss the wonderful experiences and the wonderful friends I have made. I know I may feel scared and overwhelmed about returning to a normal life outside the bubble. But I feel confident in knowing that I have the tools and motivation to accomplish anything I put my mind too. 

The main thing I focused on this year was the preparedness, response, and recovery of major natural disasters. I think this can be compared to how you handle life’s biggest obstacles. The end phrase is always recovery and a final sense of relief. It’s the feeling of when the storm dies out, and you may see the blue skies and rainbows. You may have to pick up a few dissembled pieces, but you know you can always piece them back together and start brand new.