In just over two weeks, I will end a great journey that I’ve been on for the past two years of my life. I’ve had two great years in the NIH’s Management Intern Program…there have been many new friends made, lots of professional growth achieved, high stress projects completed, long days survived, and trying moments where my personal convictions and beliefs have been challenged…but, in every experience, I’ve managed to learn lots of things and most of all, I’ve truly been reminded of what it means to be patient in this life.
My decision to accept a position in this program, meant taking a step backwards, I had to take a demotion, which many people probably would not do, but I believed that a step back would ultimately result in many steps forward if I could manage to be patient. A step back has meant no pay raises for multiple years, while living expenses continue to increase, no annual bonuses, no telework days, limited vacation time, and a huge hit to my work-life balance. A step back has meant not moving ahead at the pace one would hope for, but managing to find peace with it knowing that in the end, I will gain. Taking a step back has meant acknowledging that there’s a strong possibility that I would be at a very different pay grade now if I hadn’t accepted this opportunity, but also accepting that I may not be making a real difference if I had remained where I was. This program, or perhaps this season, has truly taught me the difference between chasing money and chasing a life-changing experience. I’m certain that I will always choose a life-changing experience moving forward!
Without a doubt, there have been painful days over the past two years, especially when the money got tight and the daily commute to the office became exhausting. There were lots of stressors…the constant shuffle from one office to the next with no sense of stability…carrying the load one’s office on your back on a daily basis…not knowing if you will have access to a printer or computer…and not having an office phone number where people can always reach you if you’ve got poor cell phone reception…there were stressors! I gained 20 pounds and am completely out of shape, my body is tired and I’m in desperate need of a long break that I will not get any time soon, but despite these things, I’ve survived the challenge and I’m better for it!
I’m not the same person today that I was two years ago when I entered the program. I’ve gone from lacking confidence and often feeling beat down in the office environment, to believing that not only am I great at my job, but one day soon and very soon, I’ll be leading my own staff. I’m now comfortable making presentations to senior leadership of the organization even when I’m sharing tough stuff knowing that all will be well, I’ve come to learn that my age doesn’t limit my ability to offer reasonable solutions that can have a positive impact in an organization, and I’ve come to understand that people really do want me to be a part of their team. One of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had came from being asked to apply for the job I ultimately accepted. When you’ve experienced real rejection in your lifetime, this means so much!
Through these two years, I’ve learned how to speak with greater tact, I’ve learned to take a look at things with the bigger picture in mind more frequently, I’ve learned to appreciate my bosses as colleagues and not people who I always have to agree with, I’ve learned to embrace and value mentors, and most importantly, I’ve truly learned to be patient. Not everyone who started the program with me is finishing it alongside of me. Some people jumped ship along the way, and while I don’t know all of the details for why they walked away, I do know, in part, it was related to desiring more money and not being able to embrace the challenge of working under different leadership styles. For them, I wish they had not jumped off the boat so soon, for in this life, it’s the storms and the waves, that grow and develop us. An easy life makes for a weak soul, but one who can face challenges with a winning spirit and courage will always survive! For those who have the courage, even the most challenging task isn’t too hard to overcome!
When I honestly reflect, I’m reminded of how I used to get upset when it looked like other’s lives were more blessed than my own, but now I can see how the hard times developed my character and made my roots strong enough to withstand the storms of life. I can remember days when I would visit my brother and his family and leave in tears questioning why God seemed to be withholding His blessings from my life, but pouring out His blessings upon them. I can remember days when I was so angry about needing to live with my parents because I was broke and truly poor. I was so ashamed and bitter about my life, but now I cam remember those days, and smile, because they show just how good my God has been to me. Remembering those moments reminds me that there is great value in being patient. It may have taken me longer to get where I am than some others…as a matter of fact, there are still many things I desire but have yet to see unfold in my life, but my process was designed just for me and it is shaping me to be the person who God wants me to be. I’ve learned to not long for what others have; instead, I choose to be patient and let God work things out in my life in whatever way He chooses. I know that in due season, if I don’t interrupt the process and try to do things my way, my patience will be rewarded and I’m okay with that!
Until next time…be patient in the process!