On sticking with it…

My first visit to Thailand. Sitting in a circle, hearing stories of young women who were trafficked form Myanmar to Thailands border town as sex workers.

My first visit to Thailand in 2008. Sitting in a circle, hearing stories of young women who were trafficked form Myanmar to Thailand’s border town as sex workers.

I’ve been with The SOLD Project for 6 years now. It’s amazing to me how often I get asked “so what are you up to now” and watch people’s shocked faces to find out I’m still with SOLD. Or other times I’m in conversation with friends and express the hard parts of my job and get told “you’ve been with this for a while. It wouldn’t be bad for you to move on”. I’ve had enough of these interactions in the last year to both recognize their repetitiveness as well as create a certain feeling of insecurity in what I’m doing. Should I move on? Have I been with this for too long? Could someone else lead it better?

In the last six years I’ve been with SOLD I’ve watched friends move on to second and sometimes even third careers. I’m 31 years old. We’re all in a place of figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. Am I missing something?

I absolutely love what I do. Sure, there are times I feel off balance and know that parts of me aren’t being challenged. Other times I’m overwhelmed with challenge and wish I had a boss telling me what to do next. Sometimes I wish I’d gone corporate as the instabilities of the non-profit world and lack of sustainability weigh on me. I yearn for guidance and growth and new experiences.

But don’t we all?

As I’ve settled into my sixth year of being with the same non-profit – one that I helped start from it’s very beginnings – I’ve realized that I don’t want to run when it gets hard. Or overwhelming. Or when I feel like maybe I’m missing out on some other experience.

Someone once told me that most baby boomers are still in their same careers as when they graduated. Whereas my generation will have experienced 4 careers by the time they retire. I don’t see anything right or wrong about either. But I do know that. For me. Today. I’d like to stick with mine a little longer. Even if that makes my peers not so sure what to do with me.

Gary Haugen once gave a talk I resonated deeply with. He eloquently shed light on the road to justice being long. And painful. And at times mundane (think data entry). But it’s the moments of victory that we celebrate. I’m learning to accept the journey. And learning to trust that the moments of victory will come. With a lot of hard work. And vulnerability. And dependency on investors. And even data entry.

I have a dream. Of a world where children are free of exploitation. Where cycles of poverty are broken. Where families are restored. And I’m seeing that. Every single day. With my work at SOLD.

So, to keep myself balanced, I start other initiatives that feed and breathe life to other aspects of me. I run a photography business that allows me to be creative and provides extra income. I consult. I attend conversations and gatherings about faith and leadership development (both things I’m passionate about). I create personal projects and make films. And all of these outlets allow me to meet new people. Who inspire me and encourage me and get me to ask deeper questions.

I don’t know what the future has for me. But I do know that today, six years later, I am more dedicated to SOLD and our mission of prevention than ever before. And I hope that remains true for years to come. I’m glad I stuck it out. And I’m writing this blog post to remind future me that the journey can be incredibly difficult or even worse, at points, mundane. But the glimpses of justice from the fruits of our efforts that we see along the way make it all worth it.

Tawee and I six years ago. Who knew that this man would come to be one of my best friends, dear co-workers and partner in cause as we work towards our dreams.

Tawee (SOLD’s Thailand Director) and I six years ago. Who knew that this man would come to be one of my best friends, dear co-workers and partner in cause as we work towards our dreams.

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