Navigating the past

Knowing where you come from can help guide the path to where you are going. – Even if you don’t know where that is yet.

Changing jobs, hobbies or even lifestyles is normal. The average person experiences four job changes by the time they are 32, according to CNN Money. But too often we leave behind aspects of our past experiences when we make the transition. It’s easy to leave behind hobbies and people. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you contacted someone from high school. It’s been a long time, right?

It’s easy to cut ties during transition. It’s much harder packing learned experiences into a proverbial backpack and traveling through life with it on your back.

However, it may be advantageous to carry extra baggage.

As a journalist, we attempt to relate to our subjects. Often, we find ourselves parachuting into the middle of a story attempting to make meaningful connections. The quality of a story often depends on how well we can tell our subject’s story.

It’s beneficial to have a wide range of life experiences so that you can reach into your proverbial backpack and pull out a relatable experience. Being able to relate on a basic level forms a foundation of trust that can be built upon.  

However, it isn’t always easy carrying around experiences. Some you want to actively forget and some happened so long ago that they are hard to remember. Taking time to celebrate your past helps remind you of these experiences and helps you navigate your next moves.

St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration of both my heritage and previous experiences. It reminds me to take some time to reflect on where I have been and often it gives me perspective on where I am going.

When I was very young, about four or five, I remember attending St. Patrick’s Day mass at Marquette University. Both my parents are Marquette alums – they met there and they both knew Father Naus, the priest who led St. Patrick’s Day mass. He was a clown in his spare time and at every mass he would give each child a balloon. If the child’s parents couldn’t blow the balloon up by midnight, the child could stay up all night.

While this was a great tradition, I remember seeing these Irish dancers in sparkly, ornate dresses and hypnotizing curls. I wanted to be one of them so bad that at the ripe age of five, I convinced my parents to sign me up for Irish Dance lessons. I ended up dancing until I was in sixth grade.

Admittedly, I was not great. Looking back, younger me wasn’t willing to put in the practice time to become a good dancer. Although it wasn’t ultimately for me, it is still a part of me. I enjoy celebrating and love going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade and seeing the dancers in their dresses and wigs dancing without using their arms.

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