Back to… Something New

The High Holidays are a time of reflection, and one of the things I’m reflecting on is how different this fall season will be for me. Although we may often wish it, we can’t stay in college forever. This year, my time was up: I had to leave the safety of college, along with its comforting back-to-school routines, and enter the “real” world.

Lucky for me I found a soft place to land (the ISJL) – and didn’t entirely abandon the “school year” setting. But now, instead of prepping for back to school with new pens and shiny notebooks and getting ready to be a student, I’m prepping for visits to Southern Jewish communities and getting ready to lead at the front of the classroom. It’s a different kind of anticipation that builds when you are prepping for the unknown. The safety of college was left behind in Maryland, and now it was time for me to start my life as a young Jewish professional in Mississippi. As I prepare for my first full year as an ISJL Education Fellow, there are a lot of things to think about.

“Where am I going?”

After the excitement of being gainfully employed wore off, I wanted to know where I was going. I am a planner. I like to know things and prep for success. So, just like any good student, I started with a calendar. My whole team here is calendar-obsessed. Throughout the summer, in order to make sure we touched base with all of our communities in-person before fall hit, we put together seemingly crazy trips with hundreds of moving parts into a seamless calendar of travel. Compared to my previous life as a student, where the most scheduling I had to deal with was “do my classes overlap,” here there is a lot more to think about. So I bought a calendar and made a plan, called my communities and wrote things down.

My summer travels started and ended without incident, and I glided into fall. It was strange to realize that while I was traveling and settling into my new life, my old life at school was picking up exactly where it had left off. Back up in Maryland, on my old college campus, students were moving in, going to the bookstore and attending class. They were sitting in the desks where I sat and taking the classes I took.

Before I left, I thought that life in the South was going to be a new world, that I would lose who I was and become someone new at the hands of circumstance. I thought would leave my old life solidly in the past. But instead I brought old me along for this new ride.Prepping for a new job is a lot like prepping for college. I had to pack up and move. I had to buy supplies. And while I am no longer writing research papers, I am still using my brain and coming up with creative ideas and getting ready for each next step, with my trusty calendar of course!

So as much as I’ll miss heading back to school this fall, I’m excited to visit religious schools and start learning new lessons of my own about life after college. L’shanah tovah!

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