Yesterday was my last day working at the farm. I spent three months working here in California as a part of the requirement to graduate from school. We have to complete four internships all four years of college, one every six months. This was my first, and I went all the way to the other side of the country to take on my first one. It honestly was a bit nerve-wracking, but when I got here, I was so overwhelmed with work, I had little time to be concerned about where I was and the new-ness of it all. And, now, here I am writing about my last day on the job, and how very soon, I will be back at school. My college runs on the quarter system, so I go to school year round. I can hardly believe that three months has passed since being here. It is truly mind-boggling and sad. The real bad thing is, is that I was counting down the days to leave. And, now that it’s done, I feel like I should stay here. I have friends here, and I have met such wonderful, fun-loving and truly hard-working people here. Here, there is no doubt that the people that I have worked with these past few months, have real grit. I mean, the kind of grit where you look at a person in true amazement, not the off-hand excitement where you say, “Wow! That’s great!” just to be polite. I mean, these people here are the kind of people that you look at and you have nothing really to say. How can you have anything to say to someone so utterly strong and obviously gritty?
Since being here, I think I have finally discovered myself. It is not just due to the people that I have met, but what I have done. I have had three months to myself. Three months to think about who I am and who I want to be. I have been completely alone during that time. I have had my co-workers and my bosses to keep me company, but really, it has mostly just been me by myself. I have wandered the farm, and thought about my life, what I want from it, what I struggle in it. I think this inner thinking came about due to a sweat lodge I was a part of about a month after I arrived here. Sweat lodges are magical things, and I really honestly believe that being a part of that process was the turning point. If my life were a story, that would be the climax, the point in which a character can never return to the “before.” In that lodge, my head never felt so clear. I was sleeping before, but now, I am awake. I see my life differently, and in that lodge, I actually for the first time felt the most like myself than I ever have. In other words, I feel like I was really the person that I am at my core once I was in that lodge. Never have I felt that way, but that lodge triggered something. Ever since then, it is like I am more aware and I am almost fearless. Every worry seems petty. The lodge coincided well with my work. Annie, my boss, once told me that a lot of people who pass through the farm are sometimes in search of healing, though they may not know it at first. I can easily say that I have changed. Working here, as a young woman, I have found my strength. Growing up, I was told I couldn’t do this or that. I was not strong enough. I was not good enough. I was not allowed to mow the grass because I would “cut off my leg.” I was not allowed to pick up heavy things, because I simply couldn’t. I am small-framed, and I guess that is where this assumption came from. Even on the farm, Jeff once told me to have someone help me pick up a 30 pound box of carrots. I told him that I could do it myself, but he did not listen, and told one of the other ladies to help me, to make sure I received help. When he left, I waved the woman off, telling her in Spanish, that I could do it just fine by myself. And, I did, no problem. But, see, I learned here, that people will always tell you, you can’t. I can’t get an English degree because I won’t get a job. I can’t learn to drive because I am too much of a nervous person. I can’t go to the college of my dreams because I can’t give them what they want. I can’t make the money, and I can’t b the perfect student. I can’t lift heavy things because I am a girl. I can’t have a boyfriend because I am too young and I am not strong enough. Actually, no. I say no. I can do things. I can mow, and I did. I didn’t lose a leg. I have a boyfriend who treats me right, and who I have no fear of. I can learn how to drive, and I have been doing great. I can carry carrots. I can carry 30 pounds, and 40 pounds, and 50 pounds. I can have three jobs and go to school full time and have friends and have fun all at the same time. Life has not limited me. The core of who I am tells me that I am strong enough. I am able. And, I have discovered this because these past few months the only person I have had is myself. My mom always said the only person you can ever rely on is yourself, because that is the only person who will be with you until the end. She is right, and I learned that here. I also learned how important people are too, however, I have learned that there are so many different people in this world, and they all offer so much. I have become attached to everyone I have met here. One of Annie’s friends, Laima, gave me a little rabbit figurine after I had my first lodge. She told me that the rabbit is my spirit animal. The rabbit is known for its fear. It runs away from the things it fears; that is how the rabbit survives. It lives its life running. But, it is also smart, and it listens. It listens well to the universe, and takes in all of what it has to say. Recently, I have been running into a lot of rattle snakes. I told Laima about this, how snakes terrify me, but that they are significant considering that rabbits are snakes’ prey. She told me that the snake is my transformative animal. Snakes shed their skin to start afresh. Laima believes that the snake is a symbol for my transformation, that I am shedding my skin, changing. I believe her. I am no longer afraid (of snakes, yes!). I feel refreshed from working here, and I am excited about the new possibilities that await me. I look forward to it. And so, with that, I am moving back to school, into a new dorm with a new roommate. I will start my college career over again, as a new person. I am more thankful now and more aware. I hope that in these next days, weeks, months, and years that I am able to keep the knowledge and understandings of myself with me. Because as I very well know, it is easy to lose sight of who you are and what matters most.