Mission Year staff often talks about being stretched and being uncomfortable and I tell you, this hasn’t been the easiest journey. This transition into adulthood, planting myself in Chicago and internal battles has left me with major growing pains. Going home to Atlanta for Christmas break was very unfamiliar and made me realize how much I’ve changed. Some of those things include how I want to spend my free time, how I view family relationships, questioning my actions, thoughts and having hard conversations. Luckily an old friend that knew me before Mission Year and who understands me very well, reached out and I was able to unload without having to explain my past, present, and future. They helped me to realize the person I am becoming through the challenges I am facing and gave me a different perspective to chase after. The old me would have been afraid to question my thoughts and actions and probably would have ignored my feelings on the inside. My awareness would have been in a slumber, I probably wouldn’t care to interact and build deep relationships with my neighbor and hold on to community as tightly as I do. I probably would have been so dependent on my parents, my faith would have been stagnant. This year my City Directors are helping to realize it is okay to be okay with change and growth. I believe my housemates, service site and MY structure is shaping me into a vulnerable, passionate and strong leader. Of course it hasn’t been all roses, but I guess if it was easy everyone would be doing it right?!
I am learning new nonprofit management skills, I am getting better at public speaking and my passion for social entrepreneurship is growing like wild fire! My relationships with my housemates is a lot better and I genuinely enjoy the laughter we share daily. My church community is loving me so hard (it’s still overwhelming sometimes lol) and inviting new neighbors to our house every Saturday has been fulfilling and eye opening. From making random puppet shows, to playing crazy games and laughing when things fall apart in the house, I believe my housemates are learning to lean on each other in true community which makes this journey more bearable.
Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo
Gerlisa Shipman is a current Chicago Alumni Leader and also a Chicago Mission Year alumni. Originally from Stockbridge, GA, she attended Chowan University. Learn more by visiting her donation page.