Direction and the luxury of time

Dear Pope Francis,

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently been off work because of an injury. I was employed almost full time housekeeping at a local hotel as well as part-time as a reporter for a local radio station. Because of the work I was doing I managed to strain all the muscles in my right arm and wreck most of the tendons in my wrist. DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis, so not a fun time.

After six and a half weeks off, twice daily anti-inflammatory drugs and a ton of ice, I finally got to go back to work this week. I’ve been moved from housekeeping to serving banquets, which has a lot less hours but is far superior to unemployment.


Being able to use my hand enough to work again was an answer to a prayer. In retrospect, so was the time off. I have a really hard time recognizing my limits. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt driven to do things; but I’ve rarely had the luxury of spending time just figuring out what I wanted to do.

I did not spend six weeks just thinking. For the first two weeks I read a book cover-to-cover every day. Over the next month I watched a lot of Dr. Who on Netflix, and ripped through the first three seasons of Breaking Bad. I complained about being stuck in the house a lot, and I whined about all things I normally do for myself that I couldn’t do (washing dishes, folding socks, baking, knitting, video games, writing.)

I spent some time in prayer, but most of it was just “pretty please let me move my hand without yelping in pain” and “please get Worker’s Comp to make a decision on my claim and cut me a cheque.” As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t exactly gracious about the time off.

Once I was able to type for longer than 15 minutes without needing ice, I started searching the job banks for potential careers. This was particularly discouraging and for about a week a source of great angst.

As a recent university graduate there’s a lot of pressure to get started in a career, specifically, one which is somehow related to my fields of study and pays well enough to pay off my mortgage student loan. Some of the pressure is coming from my parents, some of it from my peers, but most of it is coming from me.

After I got over angsting about the total lack of entry level jobs, I realized part of my problem was I was looking for jobs which fit what I expected of myself as a journalism major instead of jobs that fit what I wanted for myself. This was promptly followed by a freak-out about how I had no idea what I wanted.

When I wrote my letter of intent for my journalism application in my second year of university I focused on the people whose stories I wanted to tell and my involvement with the community. I didn’t mention I thought the program provided the most practical skill sets I could get from a liberal arts education until I was interviewing to be the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper a year and a half later.

When I think about what I want for myself, being a reporter doesn’t come in to the picture much anymore. I’m good at it, but I haven’t loved it since experiencing the ugly side of political journalism and public opinion during my last year of university.

Since the New Year I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about whether not wanting to be a reporter anymore is just being chicken. I don’t think it is. I think I’ve finally recognized where the limit to what I can cope with is, and for the first time in my life I’m respecting the limit and looking for alternatives.

I love talking to people and making their stories, both good and bad accessible. I can do that by organizing fundraising events for a charity whose mission I share. I can use my writing and audio-video editing skills towards bringing in more volunteers and money to expand on current programs. I can get back to choosing work which needs me to serve others, and puts the attention on them and what they’ve done or experienced rather than on me and how I told the story.

For now I’ll continue to serve at banquets and pick up shifts reporting for the local radio station. Rent needs to be paid and groceries need to be bought. I’ll pray for God to give me an obvious sign pointing me to where I need to go, and keep applying for jobs at charities and organizations involved with vulnerable populations.

Content to serve,


Categories: Meredith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Direction and the luxury of time

  1. Dear Meredith Thank you for sharing this. I will pray that you get more deeply in touch with the dream in your heart. You have already started when you say so positively “I want to serve” Sister Rosemary

    • Meredith Gillis

      Sister Rosemary,

      I’d appreciate those prayers very much. When I did SERVE with the Redemptorists a few years ago we talked about how we’re called to fill the place where the world’s deepest need meets our deepest desire. What we didn’t talk about quite as much was discerning what our desire is beyond the cliché “I want to help people.”

      It’s very time consuming, this discernment stuff. You figure something out, but it just opens up more avenues of thought and questioning which need to be explored.

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