The best piece of advice I ever received came from my ceramics professor as I prepared to graduate from college: Happy at home, happy at work, that’s all that there is.
Since then those words have been my driving force as I search for the job that fits my conviction to contribute positively to my society, while allowing me to follow my personal passion. Part of that journey has led me to commit to a year of service with Youth Volunteer Corps Headquarters, helping to achieve our mission to address community needs and inspire youth to a lifetime ethic of service.
This summer I had the pleasure of leaving my keyboard to get my hands dirty alongside youth from YVC of Greater Kansas City spending their summer making a real impact at J-14 Agricultural Enterprises, an organic farm on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas.
My Job, My Joy
After a morning of pulling weeds from fields of cabbages and repurposing a truckload of 2×4’s, we were lucky enough to get a tour, and a talk, from farmer Joe Jennings. Mr. Jennings spent decades in the military and as a school teacher, and through it all he’s been farming. For Mr. Jennings, farming isn’t his job, it’s his joy.
As we walked the acres of farmland that Mr. Jennings has developed over the years, he began to talk about the value of work, and not only what it does for others, but what it does for yourself. Essentially, your work is your life, so spend it doing something that you care about, something that you love. Mr. Jennings has certainly found that, and he says he’ll never stop. The hard work keeps him active, and keeps him sharp.
The Search Is On
As Mr. Jennings talked to the group of youth, I couldn’t help but recall my college professor telling me those words that have stuck with me as I wander through the early years of my career. I looked at this man and couldn’t help but think that Mr. Jennings loved his work so much that he made his home and his work one in the same. How amazing is that? “Just keep trying new things until you find what you love,” Mr. Jennings told the youth.
And the great thing is that these youth can. One Youth Volunteer at the project was feeling a little hot and tired after a week working outside in the Kansas summer heat, and she ultimately decided farming wasn’t for her. But no worries, she was going to volunteer at another nonprofit—somewhere inside—the next week.
Another youth told me he loves gardening, so he always picks the projects where he can get his hands dirty. Before college, or even high school for some, these youth were gaining experiences and perspectives that could really shape their lives.
I’ll admit, I was a little jealous that these youth were exposed to this wisdom and, given the opportunity to act on it, at such a young age. Because sometimes finding your own passion, and finding your own joy—it takes time.