Figurative Arrows

Figurative Arrows

Have you ever had an experience where your eyebrows automatically raise in intrigue? Where your mouth drops open of its own accord? Where your heart flutters with excitement? And you think to yourself, this is what I want to do.  I’ve had very few moments like this in my life, but I can point to those rare, certain moments as attributive to where I am today. I had that feeling when I first stepped onto the University of New Hampshire campus, and, while struggling to pick my major, first spoke with a Recreation Management and Policy student. It’s one of those sensations that strikes you so acutely, it’s as if someone was standing directly in front of you and telling you, matter-of-factly, that you were meant to do whatever it is that gave you this feeling. I had that feeling the other day.

The Trust for the National Mall, dedicated to engaging and connecting the 25 million annual visitors of the National Mall, hosted a forum focused on their learning initiative plan. Programs that the Trust will establish are meant to highlight the National Mall’s relevance to the country and evoke a sense of shared experience amongst visitors.  Already the Trust has begun work in park education with their training of docents and volunteer days of service. They hope to further integrate the resources for learning presented by mobile devices and create large scale learning events on the Mall.  The forum that the Trust hosted brought key stakeholders and leaders around a table to discuss new programs, receive critical feedback, and collect opinions about the Trust’s learning initiative. I was enthralled in the presentations and completely captivated by the conversation to follow. The entire time I was feeling that twinge of excitement, that internal recognition that this was important.

The feeling I felt that day, though similar to other’s I’ve felt in the past, was not as familiar. This pang inside my core wasn’t telling me anything too specific. When I’ve gotten this feeling in the past, it was a matter of choice – picking a university, picking a major. This time, it was like someone painted a big red arrow on the floor, but didn’t give me any further instructions.

For the Washington Center program, it is a requirement to conduct an informational interview with someone in Washington D.C., who holds a job you might like to have someday. The National Park Service’s Chief of Interpretation and Education on the National Mall said she would be happy to meet with me. During our meeting, I scribbled down all of the advice that she gave me and asked many more questions than I initially prepared. Our conversation left me with a lined sheet of paper covered in internship and education recommendations and my resume, edited and returned in just a few extra minutes after our interview. On my walk out of her office, my spirits high, I half expected to see a red arrow painted on the floor like the one I’d imagined at the forum for the Trust.

I suppose this is just the beginning of large, figurative red arrows drawn on the ground.  This is only the start of eyebrow raising-mouth gaping-heart fluttering realizations.  Each week I find myself with another skill, another experience, another sign, that points me in the right direction and gives me the confidence to pursue my passion.  Compared to some of my friends, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to knowing what I want to be when I grow up. They’ve been wearing stethoscopes or lab goggles, figure skates or tutus for years. Meanwhile, I’ve been sifting through hobbies, temporary jobs, and majors. In D.C. as an intern, as a student, as a city girl, I’ve put some more direction into my life. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but at least I have a heading.

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