Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

The End to a Feeling – Alexandra Ehrhardt

It has been twenty-two years on this planet known as Earth for me. Twenty-two years of learning, striving, and constantly pursuing excellence—sometimes to no avail, others to the utmost success. With twenty-two years underneath my belt, I thought that I would have been further along a fabricated timeline in my mind. Each piece of my story would fit into a crafted nook:

graduate high school, go to college, go to graduate school, get a good paying job, have a family

In my grand scheme, these were already in place for me through good grades, love and support, and monetary backing. How wrong I was…

Photo era 2009 back when I had a different mindset.

A photo of 2009 – Back when I had a different mindset, and more importantly a different set of goals.

(This post is not sullen, reader—I swear. Don’t get discouraged. I haven’t.)

From the age this photo was taken, flashing forward to the current day of December, 2014, things have taken turns that I could not even envision. I have taken swerves and I have taken U-turns. There are many road metaphors that I could place into this blog post, and each would never do justice to the precipice that has become my life. Free falling into nothingness without worrying about a safety net has been one of the most dangerous things I have done with my life so far. I could only feel comfortable and happy with my current self if I thanked those who not only guided me down this course, but sailed alongside my murky and uncharted waters in case I needed to be lifted out of the peril before me. Five come to my mind: mentors who have bestowed their love and care upon a lost soul. I tear up in typing out this post.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

After all of these crazy maneuvers in my life, there have been tough lessons for me to learn. There is no manual, and every person I see makes living seem so easy. I am constantly on the fritz, taking deep breaths to remind myself to slow down. But there is this compounding pressure to embody perfection even though I know this is not possible.

APEX has taught me to think differently.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the stress that academics inflict upon students. At the drop of a hat, my friend’s eyes would well up with tears as she began to lament about the woes of her future. These were important feelings for her to express, and I knew exactly how that felt just months ago. Surviving the academic wilderness when you’re trying to cram four years into three is not an easy feat. While my friend did not have to cram her four years, our feelings were so intertwined that I could not help but appease myself in adding commentary.

Many things in my life were stressful as I went into my job at APEX Youth Center. I was in no-man’s-land, unaware, and unprepared for everything. I scrambled with diligence to strive towards success in my job, but often I was met with defeat. Too many variables the universe threw my way is what I attribute to the struggle. With no superficial expectations collected in my mind, I did not think there was that much to amount to disappointment. However, there I was, three months in, feeling disappointed in my work. There were so many things out of my control. Three gentleman from the center had trashed my work, and they were met with failure supported by my passion. Nevertheless, these small glimmers of hope did not appear in my eye. Rather, I felt weak and aged, my fears of being jaded answering their call, waning passion and lost direction.

Something has changed in my work, though. I feel at peace more than ever when the youth come into the center. I do not freeze up. My shoulders do not tense. I feel calm—no approaching calamity. What a joy it has been. I finally feel at a place and walking down the hallways is enjoyable. If anything, my enjoyments at work have reversed. Dealing with outside people who do not have any idea what favorite candies my kids like or what sports they enjoy playing makes me sad. Learning more about each young adult’s day makes for the best times of my life at the center. No longer are the days of wondering how I can persuade each child to have a better future. I do that simply through natural instinct and habit. I do not need to be forceful in my work. Much of it comes naturally. Once again, I realize that somethings are just out of my control.

If just trust that things will work out, that if I work hard at being the best I can be it resonates with those that I love and care for, things tend to be just fine. I am tired of throwing my entire body up against a brick wall when the route around the wall is to my left.

There is no getting over this wall with the old attitude and mindset.

There is no getting over this wall with the old attitude and mindset.

Five months into being an AmeriCorps VISTA, the peace has finally arrived. Au revoir to the feelings I used to succumb to day to day. Bonjour to the joy of the season and the joy of the present.

I still have all of my APEX love. 🙂

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2 comments on “The End to a Feeling – Alexandra Ehrhardt

  1. Allesan
    August 21, 2015

    Indeed!

  2. Jack Styczynski
    December 5, 2014

    Laissez les bons temps rouler, ma Cherie!

Comments are closed.

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This entry was posted on December 4, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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