Mary is one of my dearest friends here in Nashville. She embodies Shakespeare’s quote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce” in the truest sense. She has the brightest smile and kindest brown eyes. She’s a sweet Southern girl who loves Alabama Football and the farm life. For a long time, this was all I knew about Mary. But as time went on I got to learn more about her. She cares for people in a way that only someone who has known the depths of darkness could. I admire the way she sees the world—with eyes that see the overlooked and a heart that beckons the lost and hurting.
Tomorrow Mary leaves to South Dakota where she will be working for the AmeriCorps at a homeless shelter. Mary got her Undergrad in Criminal Justice and Psychology, and is almost through with her Master’s in Human Counseling with a Concentration in Crisis, Trauma, and Addictions. She hopes to use these skills to aid the impoverished in the Native American community, and in her words, “Help encourage those who chose to live a different life from their norm and culture.”
This wouldn’t be the first time she set out on her own to work in a town she knew no one to pursue her passions. I have seldom seen such fearless ambition and drive like I have with her. I asked her to share her insight on a few subjects. She has a valuable perspective that many of us can glean from. I hope her responses inspire you and challenge you like they did for me.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping others no matter where they are in their life. I try to remain the truest and purest version of myself to allow others to see how freeing it is to live a transparent life. I try to stay humble and never “get above my raisin.” I knew I was called to serve from a young age. Over the past several years, I have come to learn what the term “service” looks like and means for my life. I love helping people become the best versions of themselves.
Why the AmeriCorps?
For years I considered the Peace Corps but always had cold feet. Finally, I decided to go for it. After doing research, I stumbled upon the AmeriCorps and saw what a great opportunity it would be to gain experience in my field of study, as well as embark on a whole new adventure. In one of my favorite books, The Traveler’s Gift, Andy Andrews says, “One decision, that you make, can literally change the world.” With that I set my sights on the AmeriCorps.
Why move to a place where you don’t know anyone?
I love this question. In recent years I have felt led to serve far and wide. At 19, I moved 500 miles and 3 states away to attend my dream university. At 22, I took a massive leap of faith and moved to Nashville, not knowing a single soul. Now, at 24, I am picking up out of my Southern comfort zone and making the biggest and furthest move of my life.
There’s this part of me that loves to move. I grow, evolve, and learn so much about myself when I venture to a new location. There is something so magical and spiritual about relocating out of your comfort zone and learning to essentially, “live again.”
In college, my life in Tuscaloosa, AL was drastically different from my life here in Nashville, and my life in Rapid City, SD will be exceedingly different from anything I am use to. Relocating to an unfamiliar place is a big change and quite the challenge, but one that I am always happy to endure!
Did you have reservations? How did you look passed those?
I definitely had reservations and I am still nervous. I’m blindly moving somewhere I’ve never been! But I believe that I can persevere through any situation life gives me. As a Christian, I know how cliché this may sound, but I really try to “let go and let God,” in these situations. I relinquish my own control and put my faith in God. I let go of my fears, my anxieties, my worries, my own plan, and allow Him to mold me and provide for me in times of doubt.
Another one of my favorite quotes that I have to keep reminding myself is, “You have to feed your faith in order for your doubts to starve themselves.” In The Traveler’s Gift, the author states, “When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting on God. But I understand God is waiting on me.” God knew I was destined for South Dakota at this moment, in this part of my life. He was waiting on me to say yes, and I can’t and won’t disappoint Him.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue their passions but is afraid?
You have passions for a reason—to pursue them! Passions are the waterways that flow to your careers and your goals. Never be afraid of them. If we are fearful to pursue our passions, then we will never make anything of ourselves. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Without that one step towards pursuit, we fail ourselves. My advice is don’t be afraid and take that first step, no matter how scary it can be.
When and how do you know you’re “ready” to go after a goal?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Whatever your goal may be, you have to fight for it, because if you fight, you will win. If you give up on your goal, you give up on yourself. It’s a long, hard road back after you have quit. The fact that you thought and created a goal for yourself is motivation enough to go after it! It won’t be easy, but it is worth it.
If I know one thing to be true, it is that life is uncertain and forever changing. Those goals and plans could easily change over the upcoming years, but I am invariably up for the challenge.
To learn more about the AmeriCorps, visit: https://www.nationalservice.gov/about/who-we-are
References: Andrews, Andy. The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2002. Print.