This I Believe

Michelle - Sahuarita, Arizona
Entered on February 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: work

I believe it’s ok to change your mind. While some may label this a gentle euphemism for a lack of dedication, fair weather friendship or whatever, I think it can be representative of learning, growing and evolving.

In 1997, I was desperate for some security. I had ridden out my post-university grace period a little too far. I had slacked, traveled, lived overseas; in general, experienced what I might call a free-wheelin’ lifestyle. I had amazing experiences for which I am so grateful.

Still, I had been a good student, raised with a strong work ethic in a very traditional, albeit liberal family. Although I think I wanted to, I couldn’t fully embrace the direction my life was taking and yearned for something a bit more solid. I spent a lot of time trying to find a place for myself in the working world where I could reconcile my desire for a career and my hopes to be involved in something I believed would be “good” for the world, whatever that means. Perhaps it was timing, lack of experience—perhaps both and more, but no one seemed interested. Disheartened, I applied for and got a job with the Federal government.

I thought, as an Immigration Inspector, I would have the opportunity to interact with people from around the world, welcoming them, as I had been welcomed home from my journeys. I had no idea what I was getting into. When they told me I had to carry a weapon, my friends and family were in shock. I remember my sister’s boyfriend commenting that if he had to pick five people in the world he could never imagine carrying a gun, I would be one of them. Yet there I was, a tree-hugging democrat relocated to the southern border.

That was almost 10 years ago, and I’ve learned so much. I have moved in and out of different positions, all Federal. I love what I do now, and am grateful for the experiences that brought me here. Some of what I believe is now more cynical than my previous ideas and certainly biased because of experience. I never would have imagined feeling the way I do about immigration and its satellite issues. In other ways, I feel I have a much less naïve and more fair worldview. In any case, I have learned, and that’s always a good thing. I am not a hypocrite and I hope I’ll continue to contradict myself as I get older.