By: Chris Yarrell
We have all, at some point in our lives, been offered some sort of counsel dealing with our future career plan. By and large, those who were equally as confused about where they are or where they want to be would offer the extremely trite, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This hackneyed piece of advice once aggravated me. After all, how was I to interpret this? In a world where business majors and tech-y degrees reign supreme – was I really naïve enough to believe that another social science major, who had a penchant for world history, the brain, and social justice, could make it? What did “make it” mean, anyway? I had no answers to these questions, and I did not know where to truly start looking: that is, until I began serving as a City Year corps member.
It was December 16, 2011, the day of my college graduation and the day I found out that I would be serving with City Year Denver. At the time, I was incredibly excited. I was excited about leaving for a new place, meeting new people, and starting a new chapter of my life. As time passed, however, the relatively superficial excitement that once existed slowly faded. It was replaced with a profound sense of anxiety and fear. I did not expect much else; after all, I would be leaving my family, my friends, and the familiar comfort of all that I knew. Little did I know then, but the trite question that seemed to previously consume my mind was becoming less frustrating to answer.
After much consideration, I confirmed my placement as a 2012-2013 City Year corps member as close to the marked deadline as possible. I wanted to ensure that I was making the “right” decision. I wanted to be sure that I would not regret this decision. Looking back, there is no way to gain that confidence in advance because the decision I was making to devote 10 months of my life to an organization that I truly did not know, and to people who I had not ever met face-to-face, was inherently risky. With all things in life, however, there is no reward without risk.
As I write this, I am at the midway point of my service, and the trite “Do what you love” adage has more significance. The risk that I took to commit 10 months of my life to service has proven to be a lifetime commitment to service. My experiences thus far as a City Year corps member and the holistic personal and professional transformation that has occurred have fostered a lifetime commitment to service. One factor that has instilled this transformation has been working with my students and witnessing, first hand, the potential and desire to succeed that each young person has. Ultimately, the simple counsel that I once over-analyzed now makes sense: Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.