The beginning will be a bit surreal. You may feel like a mini celebrity. “This is Nick, he’s a Bush Fellow,” will be the most common introduction you receive. You’ll start getting random Facebook and LinkedIn friend requests. People you don’t know (or barely know) will reach out and ask for your advice. Your friends all of a sudden think you’re rich. Your family will think you’re just out having fun. You’ll feel excited and scared. Proud and undeserving. Ready to go and still unclear about so many things. And this will be just the beginning.
Six months in and you’ll begin to feel it. Growth. You’ll discover the power of mindfulness and meditation, and for the first time ever, feel a spiritual connection to the world. You’ll visit Brazil, present at your first international conference, and see the beauties of the country and its people. You’ll meet organizers, movement builders, and activists from across the country and gain a deeper understanding of how to create social change. You’ll reconnect with old friends and make new ones. You’ll visit cities across the US and see trends of gentrification, rising living costs, and homelessness. You’ll also see communities on the front lines fighting against displacement, organizing for better schools, and ending toxic waste in their backyard.
There will be moments of hope, joy, and inspiration about the beauties of the world. There will also be moments of fear, anger, and sadness. You’ll feel lonely at times. Plans will not go the way you want. You’ll appreciate the little things: sidewalks, a nice dinner by yourself, walking around a new city, safe neighborhoods, meeting new friends, seeing loved ones.
Six months in and you’ll have learned a lot about yourself and the world. Here are some tips that will help you get through your first months as a Bush Fellow:
1) Time is your friend. Take it for yourself. Time allows you to re-energize, to reflect, to gain clarity. Journal, meditate, walk and exercise. Make this time for yourself as a part of your daily routine. When you do this, you’ll begin to see how much you appreciate this. If you don’t make the time, it won’t happen.
2) Less is more. You’ll feel pressure to do a lot. You’ll feel like a failure for not doing enough. But stop! Instead of trying to do too many things at once, try to focus your energy on a few things and doing them well. You’ll learn that depth can often bring much more richness and fulfillment than breadth.
3) Be uncomfortable. Discomfort leads to growth. Put yourself in new and uncomfortable situations and allow yourself to experience life in ways you never knew you could. Be aware of what this discomfort feels like. Sit with it. It’ll be worth it.
4) Relationships are your key to everything. Your friends, family, coworkers, mentors, mentees, and peers, everyone who helped you become who you are today, will continue to be there for you. Be there for them too. Keep investing in them. Invest in new relationships. People are rooting for you.
5) Failure is inevitable. Big or small, you will fail. Learn from it. Try again. Ask for help.
6) Don’t let your expectations get the best of you. You have your own expectations of how things should be. But sometimes it’s better to let go of these expectations. Let go, and suddenly a moment of disappointment can become a moment of joy.
7) Be humble. Yes you’re a Bush Fellow so you probably think you’re legit AF. And yeah, you’re kinda smart. But the more people you meet and the more you learn, the more you’ll realize how much you don’t know. Even about your own profession. Even about your own community. The world has a lot to offer. Soak it all in.
The truth is, you are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. This journey will challenge you in ways you never thought it could. It will also show you joys in yourself and the world that you never knew existed. Every day, you’ll feel...alive. Are you ready for it?