Here’s part two of my friend Jenn’s story, From Epidemiologist to Bartender… We left her in the last post as she was settling in to her life working at Marble Brewery in Albuquerque. Here she is again, in her own words:
When I finally became okay with not working in public health, I got a surprising phone call…
I was asked to interview for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/World Health Organization’s Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) public health initiative. I had applied a few months before my contract ended and had given up on being selected since so many months had passed.
I have worried that taking this time off will hurt me when I try to return to my field. I don’t see my time off as detrimental. I believe it should be looked at as a positive. I made a big change, I figured out how to do it, and I’ve learned from it skills I wouldn’t have gained otherwise… How is any of that to be frowned upon?
In my interview for STOP at the end of December, I had to explain that I was “only bartending” at the moment. I still remember hearing the “Oh…” on the other end of the line. But since I’d had time to think about why I was doing this, I was able to bring to light the positives of “just bartending.” I let my recruiter know that I had made this decision because I had worked hard during my 20s and wanted some time to chill and think about my next steps. I explained how I planned and saved for this time. I explained that I can better handle all types of people and situations now since I’ve been working in a pub. I must have impressed her because she offered me the job.
I will leave for training in May and then depart for the Philippines in June. I’ll be gone all summer. And I am so very much looking forward to the experience and doing public health work again. It’s scary, but it’s the experience that I have wanted for years – even though it isn’t a paid position.
I smile when I think about this type of work… I’m going to do something I’m passionate about – preventing disease. I’m going to work with people, not just numbers. I’m doing this because it’s what motivates and inspires me and it’s simply what I want to do. I’m proud of myself… I’m proud of myself for following my dreams and figuring out how to reach them, even if I had to carve out my own unique path to do so.
Swallow the Fear, and Make It Happen
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if I want something, or a change, to just go for it. Even if I “fail,” I have succeeded because I tried and not everyone does even that. I don’t know what my life holds for me when I return. I’m fortunate to have my job when I return. Marble truly is a special place and it’s awesome that my employers and coworkers support me doing this.
I’ve often heard people say they are jealous of my decision and wish they could do it. Well, anyone can. You just do it… Swallow the fear, and make it happen. It isn’t easy, but it is possible, and I would do this all again. Yes, I would. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Far too often I hear of people hating their jobs, I can relate because I once was that person. It isn’t worth it. Yes, one might leave a safety net… but what good is that safety if you are miserable? Oh, you might have this retirement, or that health insurance, or whatever… but what about now? Are you going to keep living for later or for now? I choose now. It isn’t always easy, and it is as scary as hell most of the time, but I always ask myself, “When I’m 80 and sitting in my rocking chair, will I regret not doing this?” If the answer is yes, then I take a deep breath, smile, laugh, and take that next step.
I share in hopes that my story will inspire others, who aren’t completely fulfilled with their current situation, to take that first step out of their comfort zone to “follow their bliss.”
Update: Jenn has just finished her training in Atlanta and is preparing to leave for the Philippines. Thanks for letting me share your story, Jenn!
If you’re interested in following Jenn’s adventures abroad, check out her brand new blog.