My pencil skirt is itching, and my blazer really needs to be dry cleaned. (Am I now the type of person that gets things dry cleaned?? Note to self to ponder later.) I’m covered in goosebumps, as I wish for the 50,000th time over the past few months that women’s office clothes came with a few more layers, that ‘office chic’ involved wearing a blanket, because even with my space heater hidden under my desk I’m always freezing in this office. Then I have to remind myself all the times I promised myself, as I was melting to death in Malawi, that I would never again complain of being cold…
And just like that, I’m reminded of what my life used to look like, what my future used to seemingly hold. Glancing around my office – complete with hardwood floors and a headset, a desk of post it notes and print outs – I’m quickly reminded none of this was in the plan.
I was the non-profit girl for so long. And then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t. Which was fine, really, I’m fine, I would tell people. Because I was. I was still the youth leader girl, after all. I still had one of my passions, after all. And then, all of a sudden, I didn’t. All of a sudden, I wasn’t sure who I was.
Sometimes, as I’m walking down the hall to the bathroom, I take an extra lap. Partly to get in some steps for my Fitbit, partly to get some time away from my computer screen, I roam the monotonous halls of our office park. Everything’s a drab color of light brown, and as I walk I tend to wonder, “How did I end up here?” and “How is this my life?” and then “…is this really a bad life?” and then “Who am I??”
I keep walking, I keep asking, and sometimes I stop in the 5 feet of sunlight that reaches its way in in the afternoon. I rest my hands on the warm railing, overlook the seemingly quaint patch of nature that lives in the middle of our circular building, created I’m sure a for relaxing breath of fresh air but it’s where most people take their smoke breaks. I stop and I let the sun warm my goose bumps; I stop and let the Son hear what I’m really asking: “Am I doing something that matters? Anything that matters? Do I matter?“
I think everyone has these thoughts, on some level. I think they’re just hitting me extra hard right now, because before this I was so certain the answer was yes. Everyone was certain the answer, for me, was yes. And yet how quickly I became not certain of anything…
It’s currently wedding season, which (besides my social calendar being overtaken by wedding festivities) means its also anniversary season. My newsfeed, as I’m sure yours, too, has been filled with wedding pictures, with sweet memories, with paragraphs describing how much their lives have changed in the past 3, 7, 14 years. In the midst of all things wedding, I celebrated two very different anniversaries: last week was 2 years since I moved to Malawi. It was also 6 months since I started my new, very non non-profit, job.
When people ask me about it, I tell them its been a transition. Which is as honest as I can describe it. Going from faith based organizations to the tech world, going from non profits to a sales office – its about as 180 as you can get. New company culture, new values, new dress code. New benefits, new salary (heyyyyyyy), new life. Its an adjustment. One I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to, if I’ll ever fully feel normal within.
Some days I feel like a sellout. I go to my fancy office in my fancy clothes and and feel like my non profit life was a lifetime ago. Like I’m becoming my worst fear: “Oh, I did a bit of non profit work back when I graduated college,” she said, 15 years into her desk job. Like I’m allowing myself to get comfortable, like I’m choosing what’s easy, what’s nice, over what scares me.
Some days I feel like a missionary. I felt so called to this random job I found on Craigslist, in a weird way I can’t explain. Pretty similar to the weird way I can’t quite explain how I felt called to move back to Malawi. I feel uniquely equipped, uniquely placed, for this role I’ve been given – even when the role happens to be a non-exciting office manager one. I feel like God wanted me here, I feel like God is using me here, in a way only He fully knows, only He fully sees. But I trust it, I see glimpses of it. I trust Him.
Most days I’m just confused. The best part of my day is lunch (just being honest). I leave at 5:02 as often as I can. I walk in the door at 8:01 most days. I make small talk with my boss, get to know him little by little week after week. I do my job as best I can, I try to be present as often as I can. I leave not feeling passionate, fulfilled, or energized, but tired, drained, and hungry. I try to find life’s tricky balances: making time for myself but prioritizing community, trying to be social and yet at the same time caring for my soul. I’m trying my hand at this whole “normal”, “adult” life and I’m not quite sure how I’m doing.
I try to not think about what my life used to be, what my life could still be. I try to not think about the ladies in Chinsapo, the schools in Kitgum, my girls at Flood Youth. Some days, its too painful. Some days, its too sad. Some days, I like the change – I like the stability and reading my boss’ mind and excelling at Excel. And those days, I get scared. Scared I am a sellout, scared I might never return to non profits. Scared this really might be my future.
And that’s when I spiral. That’s when I take a sharp turn at what-are-you-doing-with-your-life and fall head first into how-dare-non-profit-Krysti-become-a-corporate-sellout. These past few months have involved a lot of talking myself off the ledge: You matter. You are doing something meaningful. You don’t matter because of your job title or how you spend your free time, but you matter because of who you are. Your life is important because its the one God gave you. You. Matter. I’m learning sometimes the bravest displays of faith involve following His call into the mundane, being faithful in the seemingly boring, walking fearlessly into the unknown yet-known-for-not-being-exciting.
That’s what my past few months have been full of: whispering truth over lies that seem to be screamed. Learning to stand firm in the knowledge of who I am, of Whose I am. Stumbling from time to time, but getting back up again. Its been slowly pulling off layer after layer of what I thought my identity was founded in – the Malawi girl, the non profit girl, the youth leader girl – until I was just me. Just this girl. And that that’s enough. I’m enough. I matter. Even when my blazer really needs to be dry cleaned.