When I applied for the Micah program, I knew that I would gain so much and learn something new about myself. Over the years I have been constantly adding commitments on top of commitments, but also challenging myself in trying new things. I was so passionate about the work I would be doing during the program, I figured it would overpower community living and that the only thing I had to worry about was forming friendships with others. As the program began to play out, I realized that there was more to community living than just to learn about each other. I got caught up in trying to be carefree, easy going, go with the flow person in the house, that I began to lose my voice and my identity, at the expense of others. I was so concerned trying not to be the difficult person in the house and trying not to be viewed as inflexible; I realized that I was too compromising. Naturally I would always put others before myself. I would rather make others feel happy, than for me to be happy myself. I feel joy knowing that I made someone else feel loved, care about, and heard.
Over the course of the program, I also learned that I need to care about myself in balance with my intentions for others. I eventually reached my tipping point, and I have no one to blame but myself solely because I did not speak up. In both community living and the workplace, I have realized that I need to improve on personal boundaries. Instead of always putting others before myself, I need to bring myself to the forefront, especially when it comes to my identity. If I’m not okay with something, I need to learn how to be truthful and express it, and not worry about how the person on the other end will take it. I remember Sam and Marshall asking us about self-care… What do we do? When do we do it? And I recall each time I struggled to answer. There’s nothing I could really pinpoint that I can identify as my self-care routine or outlet. Though there is about a week left of the program, I know that I will continue to work on these things.
Personal growth is never-ending. I entered the program hoping to learn new things at St. Mary’s Center whether it be development, programming, or social justice topics, but I had never thought that community living would be the part of the program that I would learn and gain the most about myself. I faced challenges at work, but I found solace in the friendships with my coworkers and the support they always give. In contrast, I felt the complete opposite for the first half of the program in community living. Though it has taken our house 7 weeks to be honest and open with each other in a dialogue to discuss personal and community struggles, we recently made a breakthrough. With one genuine conversation, I can describe the growth of each person over the program, but also I know where one struggles and what help that they need from the house.