Monday, July 25, 2016

All You Need Are Some Chacos & An Adventure

by Guest Writer: Darsha Dodge

On Thursday, July 21, 2016, my life changed. I received a full-time position as the Warehouse Manager for Xanterra Parks and Resorts at Mount Rushmore, and instantly became the newest member of a team (read: family) full of incredible individuals who are fiercely dedicated to making your experience on the mountain as enjoyable as possible. With one year left at the University of Arkansas, I'm currently in the mire of trying to organize my life to finish school online, take on a full-time position, and get the hang of what a "winter coat" will actually consist of all the way up here in South Dakota. After a quick trip back home to Arkansas at the end of August, I'm set to return to the populous town of Keystone (a whopping 350 people) and settle into my new position.

My first time working at Mount Rushmore was last summer, when I spent three months gallivanting around the Black Hills and watching my bosses play softball. My unbiological sister, Carlye, and I loved it so much that we signed up for a second season. Now that my life has altered in a matter of seconds, I am certainly happy we did. Upon arrival at the site for the second time, we were alerted that Xanterra Mount Rushmore was up for our contract renewal again, and our former Warehouse Manager (the one who taught me almost everything I know about working there) was leaving his position after fifteen years to drive for Coca-Cola. And...well...there I was, ready and willing to take on a new adventure.

I'm not sure that anyone back home is even surprised. I mean, I'm the girl who jumped on a plane to Berlin the morning after my high school graduation to spend a year (alone) nannying in Germany. When I announce another spontaneous adventure, I'm rarely met with shock or awe. However, I attended a high school where there was one correct future. Only one "right" way to live. High school. College. Degree. Interview. Job. Work. Marriage. Kids. Retirement. Die. All of which require budgeting. Binding contracts. Plans, plans, plans.

I've never been very good at plans.

Not that there's anything wrong with the cookie-cutter way of life. I know several people who have followed their dreams and stuck to a plan and did everything right when everyone else told them they should, and they turned out fine and in love and happy. But I am so spontaneous. I crave adventure. I hate being on a one track radar because I fear that I'll miss out on something more exciting. Something more rewarding. Something more important.

The point is... Everyone loves to tell you what you should be doing with your life, and it either fits one of two categories: they're either telling what you should do because it worked out for them, or because it didn't and they don't want you to make the same mistake. They have good intentions, but you aren't them. Your story is not the same as theirs. Your plan (or lack-thereof) is different.

I'm not so sure there's a correct way to live. There's no right or wrong way. There's just their way and your way. They made some mistakes. You will, too. They made fond memories. You will, too. But if you have something tugging at your heart, it's important that you follow the life you know you were called to rather than the life everyone else says is calling you. You were made for a different purpose than they were, so their plan might not work for you.

All that to say, I quickly discovered that warehouse work suits me very well after being stuck down there for two weeks when I nearly broke my foot. I guess you could say I fell right into it. Literally. The process for the position was officially the most agonizingly long process I have yet to endure, but once I was told the position was mine... Well, let's just say there was a lot of hugging going on in the warehouse.

So that's it. I'm officially signed on full-time to work for the site and harass all of the people who make life at Mount Rushmore pretty darn great. Despite everyone else's opinions about the safe and correct way to continue life, my leap of faith worked out incredibly well in my favor. I'm not saying it will work out every time, but if you don't take a chance a few times, I can be certain that you'll never know what could've been. I'm fully aware the life of pure spontaneity and adventure isn't for everyone. Not everyone enjoys coasting through life with little to no plan. But if that's what excites your soul, don't hesitate to pursue an opportunity because other people are scared. This isn't about them. It's about you.

If you ever happen to be in the Black Hills, feel free to stop by the gift shop and ask for me - I'd love to meet some of B's readers! And if any of you have recommendations for how to survive an actual winter, please let me know... I'm starting to get the feeling that my chacos and Arkansas sweatshirt aren't going to cut it anymore!

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