I want to tell you a story.
Two years ago I was in a very different place than I am now.
Just after the new year in 2011, I had a breakdown. I had left the house to go get something, I have no idea what anymore. I had left the house in a hurry, bundled up against the chill and pouring rain. Despite being early afternoon, the rain clouds hung heavy in the sky and the streets were dark and oppressive.
I was desperate to get away from the constant fighting at home and a relationship that was falling apart. I had a dead-end retail job that was sucking the life out of me and despite working as hard as I could, we never had enough money to make our bills.
I felt fragile, useless, pointless…
The majority of the time I simply tried not to think. I tried not to remember the early alarm that greeted me every morning for merchandising, and the nasty customers that would follow. I tried not to think about the fight that was waiting for me at home, or the rent that we didn’t have the money for. I forcibly ignored the question of whether we were going to go without food or simply beg for money from our families that month, because we couldn’t keep putting off the rent.
I barely remember the trip to the market, it was unremarkable minus the sheets of rain coating my windshield. I had turned the radio up high to drown out my own thoughts as I meandered slowly home when a song I had never heard came on the radio.
It was upbeat and soon I was bobbing my head as I waited at the light at Ashby and San Pablo. The rain started falling harder so I flicked the windshield wipers up to high, turning the radio up to drown out the noise. The light turned a fuzzy green through the sloughing water and I hit the gas, listening intently to the perky lyrics.
I didn’t even make it a block down the street before I started crying. I cried so hard, in fact, that I could not see the road and had to pull over.
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in
Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing
The words kept echoing through my head long after the song had ended. I felt like I had been ripped open. That intangible misery suddenly had a name and I did not like it. I had been avoiding this gaping wound, instead of addressing it. I pretended that it wasn’t there, which did nothing.
I was unable to pull myself back together until the song was long since over. I merged back onto the street in the never ending downpour and headed home.
You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Since that night, I have worked every day to bring myself to a more compassionate and adventurous life, one that had meaning beyond survival; a life where I could be happy about going to work and be able to afford both my apartment and my dinner.
But it’s hard to get a leg up in this economy. Frequently I would take one step forward just to get knocked back two steps. But I had to make the best of it, which is how I found myself moving across the country with only two weeks notice. As long as I was still working towards my goal.
Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time, you’ll know
This fellowship, this opportunity to go and work in Kenya… it means so much to me.
Successfully fundraising, planning and managing this project means professional experience and training that will help me land a job where I don’t have to choose between becoming homeless or going hungry. Pulling this off means impacting and working in a part of the world that has fascinated me for over a decade.
But most of all, this project means giving other people the opportunity to make a difference in their own lives while I make one in mine.
It’s always been inside of you you you
And now it’s time to let it through
‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what you’re worth
I chose to share this story with you for a very specific reason: It’s hard to explain what this project and fellowship mean to me without telling you about where I have been.
To those of you who have supported me so far thank you so much for being a part of this amazing opportunity. Please keep up the stream of encouragement, and also tell others about this opportunity so that they can also help make this dream a reality.
The greatest gift any one can give (other than donating, of course!) is to ask their friends and family to be a part of this turning point.