Help Yourself Help Others By Sabre Campbell
Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt stuck? Like maybe you knew what your big dreams were, but you didn’t know how to start chasing them? That is exactly how I felt after graduating college last year. Just like everyone else in the world, my path in life had taken a turn due to the emergence of Covid. My dream of studying abroad while in college was disrupted by Covid. My longing for a service year abroad had also seemingly become out of reach. But I knew I needed to do something different. I was happy with the part-time job I had back home in Indiana. I loved working with the animals on the farm, and my coworkers who I had grown close to in the past year. But I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I needed a change of pace. That is why when I stumbled upon an opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps in Montana, it took all of two weeks for me to fill out all the paperwork, conduct my interviews, turn in my notice at work, and start packing up to leave. I had no idea what to expect; but I remained optimistic as I stepped into this new chapter of my life.
Everything was a whirlwind. After two and a half days of driving, my parents and I finally arrived in Butte, Montana. The next day, I signed the lease on my apartment. This was my first time living alone. Two days later, I began my service at Montana Technological University. To recount every detail of those first couple weeks would be unnecessary; and to be honest, my memory is a bit fuzzy. But what I do know is that ever since those first couple weeks, life has been hard. I have struggled with living on my own for the first time; struggled with how to deal with loneliness and depression. I don’t think people talk enough about how hard it is to make friends as an adult out in the real world. Or how to socialize and explore a new town, other than by going to bars. This journey that I have been on since November has allowed me to learn more about myself, and how to prioritize my mental health. Rather than putting my happiness into the hands of one person, my struggle with depression and anxiety has somewhat forced me to reconnect with old friends from my past. Although we are now farther apart than we have ever been, our bonds continue to grow. With my service here in Montana, and the many days that are difficult to get through, I have learned to really look for and appreciate those moments when I know I am making an impact on my students’ lives. Those small interactions where we can talk and share a laugh. When we get to go on fun trips and share meals together, while also teaching each other how to grow as people.
But as much as I embarked on this journey with the hopes of having a positive impact on others, let none of us ever forget that taking care of ourselves both physically and mentally, is our number one priority. Think about if you’ve ever been on a plane when the flight attendant is explaining what to do if the oxygen masks get dropped. You’re always supposed to apply your own mask before assisting anyone else with theirs. Because what use are you to anyone, if you yourself are not taken care of? That is what this journey has truly been about for me so far, now entering my fifth month of service. Remember that every experience in life, good or bad, comes with its lessons. If we but take some time to reflect on those experiences, we might come out the other side stronger, having learned more about ourselves and ready for our next adventure. Let us be thankful that as AmeriCorps service members, we are all on this journey together, giving our time and energy to help our local communities, as we ourselves learn to grow day by day.