When I was three or four, one of my favorite things to do was go to the grocery store with my mom. Around this same time in my life I had to answer an important question at pre-school “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I knew immediately what I was going to say – a clerk at the grocery store. Yes, at age three or four my aspiration was to be one of the gals in the red smocks who rang up groceries for the locals in my hometown. I vividly recall the two biggest reasons this was my dream job. First, I’ve always been a tactile person and was fascinated by buttons, especially buttons on cash registers. I so badly wanted to push those buttons whenever we’d checkout. Second, I figured if I worked at the grocery store I’d be able to bypass Carefree and Trident and have Bubblicious and Bubble Yum as often I wanted. This was real pre-school logic in action.
Fast forward to my freshman year in high school and guess who’s living the dream? Me! That’s right, I was hired at the grocery store where I was able to push buttons AND chew the sugary gum (although by that time it had lost its appeal). It was the perfect job at that point in my life and I worked there until the summer I graduated from high school. It’s proof that sometimes your four year-old dreams come true!
In case you’re wondering why I’m talking about this, it’s about to become more clear. As most of my readers know, I am the Assistant Director of Wellness at Drake University. In the coming days I will go to 113 Bell Center, pack up my office, which has turned more or less into an adult version of my high-school bedroom, close the door behind me, and end a very special chapter in my life.
I’ve been at Drake for almost eight years. I’ve seen hundreds of students come and go as Recreational Service employees. I have no idea how many Group X classes I’ve taught but it’s definitely 1,000 and counting. I’ve trained 28 students to become group fitness instructors. My colleague Jana and I helped Drake University earn the designation of “healthiest university” in the state of Iowa due to our thriving culture of wellness across campus. This has been such a great experience and such a great job it almost doesn’t seem like it was real. But it was real and for a better part of the past eight years it was my dream job.
Here’s the thing about dreams that can be dangerous: sometimes we don’t recognize or accept when our dreams and aspirations change. It’s tough to let go of things in life. To leave a comfortable place or the perfect job is scary. When I was able to accept that the definition of my dream job no longer matched my job description at Drake, I found the courage to be open minded about other opportunities and ultimately consider something else. Similar to how I outgrew my pre-school dream job of working at the grocery store, I feel as though I somewhat outgrew my role at Drake in recent semesters.
Starting June 11 I will be the Wellness Manager at Employee & Family Resources, a local non-profit organization in Des Moines. I always knew it would take a special opportunity for me to leave Drake and I believe this is it! While I am very sad to walk away from what once was my dream job, I am eager to see what my new career has to offer. That being said, I’m also very excited to see how the program at Drake takes shape over the next few years. Not only is change good for individuals, it’s also good for organizations.
I’d like to thank Drake University for the tremendous opportunities it has provided me. I earned my master’s degree from Drake in 2010, was able to teach a First Year Seminar in 2011, and was given endless professional development advantages. Having never been one to follow or participate in organized sports, I’d like to thank Drake Athletics, the department in which my position resided, for helping me better understand and appreciate the importance of sport as it relates to overall well-being and how it intersects multiple dimensions of wellness. I will remain a faithful Bulldog fan and follower in the years to come. And lastly, my beloved Recreational Services – the green shirts, fitness instructors, and professional staff, thank you for making my job fun and worthwhile. I can say with certainty that this has been one of the best times in my life and also a time where I developed some of the most profound and deeply rooted friendships I’ve ever known.