I have been writing this blog for about six months now. Sometimes it seems like a lot longer and sometimes it feels like I started just last week. What I’ve been thinking about recently, with school, work and a study schedule overwhelming all of my free time, is that I have been lazy about giving you readers a view into my personal life. Thus you have no idea why my blog posts have been few and far between as of the end of January. The Lemonade Stand is really a concoction of my life experiences, what I am affected by, see, hear and conclude as a twenty-something girl fresh on the real world scene. I have neglected to explain why my tagline for The Lemonade Stand is “making lemons into lemonade,” why I really believe in this philosophy and why I have been somewhat MIA recently.
Nearly two years ago at this time, I was preparing to go out into the “real world”, the world of being a grown-up. I was in my last semester of college, applying for jobs and thinking about my future and where the heck I wanted to end up. Fast forward to May 2009 and I was graduating sans job, sans boyfriend (which I realize now was a blessing but still stung at the time), moving back home to live with my mom and reading a bevy of New York Times articles reiterating the sad truth that we were in the depths of a recession. My beloved newspaper laid out in print the bleak prospects for newly minted grads. I was and am a persistent, motivated, well-rounded student. I was always involved in school (almost too involved) and may not have been at the top of my class but graduated with little trouble. Suddenly I was in a position that I had never encountered before: I could not see the next step. I had applied to jobs from October until two days before I received my diploma and there was nothing. This was not the dream I had envisioned as I unpacked four years ago in my freshman dorm room.
Then something special happened: my lemons were squeezed into a refreshing glass of lemonade. Not the lemonade I expected; more like an unexpected pink lemonade. Since June 2009, I have been working as an Activities Coordinator at an assisted living residence. I graduated with my B.A. in Art History and Historic Preservation with a concentration in museum studies. This week I constructed a balloon arch and danced to Sweet Caroline with a 99 year old lady. I was trained in school to identify, organize and write about old things; am I in any way qualified to work with old people? The answer is yes I am and I love it. Getting this job is not the making lemonade part; the glass of lemonade comes every day when I get to drive to work and have fun in a way I never expected. I did not think I was good at working with people. I did not believe I could find a job that was almost 100 percent based on creativity. I thought that the only way I could make life work was behind a desk. I have proved all of these things wrong and learned more in this year and a half than I ever expected to. The best part about this job besides the people, the laughs and getting to be creative is that it made me realize a dream I hadn’t thought about in a long time: being a teacher.
I have loved being around kids and tutoring since I was in high school. I always saw myself being a teacher but when I got to college, I kind of forgot about that dream. I loved art history and architectural history and the museum environment. I couldn’t take this love of art and combine it with my dream of being a teacher. At eighteen, I didn’t know enough about the real world to make both dreams work. I forgot that the best teachers I knew were the ones who loved life, who had so many interests and weren’t afraid to share them in the classroom. My second grade teacher taught us about sustainability before it was cool and it made me think it was cool. What is more awesome than that? I want to be that teacher, so in love with life that she naturally passes that along to the kiddies in her care. So I’ve begun a journey this January taking classes towards my certification in elementary education.
My “lemon situation” (if we can call it that) also reminded me of the other part of my personality: my desire to help others. Being in a not-so-great position in my life made me realize that everyone, at some point in their life, needs a helping hand. I’ve always volunteered but this year has opened my eyes to even more possibilities to help others. I’m excited to become a teacher, being able to give every child the chance to be educated and to create a better community. My lemons have helped me realize I need to help others make lemonade.
Here I am now, nearly two years out of school, creating a new path I am so happy and excited to create. I may not have the dream job but I make a tiny difference in someone’s life every day. I am in love with the most incredible guy I never would have met had I not moved back home. I am learning more about myself every day because I am out of “the plan.” I am so lucky to have my lemons and drink my lemonade too.