It been a week since I’ve been off work. Opposite of a teacher’s schedule, the majority of park rangering happens in the summer. Following that typical schedule, I just finished up my tenth season with the Park Service. The ringing in my head, spurred by the hum of thousands of voices, has finally dissipated. My neglected to do list is getting a little bit of attention and I can focus enough to tune into NPR again.
Oddly, it seems that there is a decently high occurrence of “introverts” that find themselves in rangering boots. Unlike the stereotype suggests, most rangers aren’t out in the wilderness, soaking in solitude and sunsets. They are in busy visitor centers or at well-used trailheads. They are acting as a translator, attempting to spin some fibers of understanding about the natural world to the general populace. Sometimes, it is a tough place to stand, attempting to blend the world of science with people’s assumptions. All sorts of stuff, as it were, gets lost in translation.
It has been a journey, going from an extremely shy person in high school (my mom made me call radio stations to check school closures just so I would just talk to someone, anyone) to someone who is not as shy? Older? Jaded? Ha! Whatever it was, this season I feel like I have grown in some areas-professionally and a few others, but more importantly, I seem to have broken through some jade-colored, gloomy fog. I think in part, I have been able to recognize the trappings of labels. ‘Introvert,’ ‘woman,’ ‘ranger,’ ‘Californian,’ although all lacking any real, concrete meaning, all come with their own parameters of what people expect from you, which in turn might lead to modifications in behavior. After talking with a friend who is taking in stride her career crossroads by stating that people rely too hard to their job or chosen activity to define them, I have started to more critically examine how these labels can be influencers, even limiters. I feel like there are so many other sources of limitation that we have in our lives, why let labels limit opportunities? Why label other people and why label yourself? Although I’ve labeled this moment in time as the end, it definitely isn’t. It’s something new, unlabeled, and yet to be defined.