Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I am walking away from the safety and security of being an x-ray tech, and running head long to follow my dreams of having a life as a farmer. I am filled with mixed emotions; excitement, hope, doubt, terror. I am placing all bets on me and my abilities to grow food. This summer will be hard, and I actually have no idea what will happen, but I feel like I am making the right decision and putting myself first. Change is good and I just have to trust that it is all going to be ok!
I was always one of those people who absolutely loved their job. I lived for high stress situations and traumas that allowed me to use my adaptive skills. Working on evenings at the University of Alberta Hospital was my life for nearly ten years. I was young, enthusiastic, and enjoyed even the busiest shifts that often ended in overtime. I loved my job… until I didn’t. It began to unfold roughly two years ago. I can pinpoint exactly which trauma case triggered it and it greatly affected me. It was then that I realized my job had changed me, and I didn’t like the person I was seeing in the mirror anymore. In order to work at a high trauma institute, I had to become cold and desensitized. I have the utmost respect for my former coworkers and the many other professionals that manage to work in situations such as those. We always see the worst case scenario at the UAH and some of the accidents that come in are literally the stuff of nightmares. That’s what started to happen to me. I was no longer able to compartmentalize my job from the rest of my life and I began to suffer from night terrors that were almost always related to a trauma that I had recently been a part of. After dealing with that for over two years, it became a very clear that I needed a change and to remove myself from that environment. At times, I thought of myself as weak for not being able to handle that, but after a while I began to see that it was just the necessary push that led me to follow my dreams.
Coincidentally, that same year I took all of my vacation in the fall with hopes to help with harvest. That was the year I first learned how to drive our grain trucks and swather. That was the year that I spent countless hours inside a grain bin vacuuming. And that was the year that I first dreamed of a life where I grew vegetables as my full time job. I envisioned myself with a market garden that would deliver farm fresh and locally grown produce to people, and maybe even someday have a B&B out there as well. That year was a pivotal moment in my life because that was when I realized which direction I wanted to take and I began to put my plans into motion to become an active part of our farm.
The farm was my safe haven when I needed it, it was where I began to heal. I have always loved our farm but I never really thought of myself as a farmer until now. It may have come out of necessity and at the time when I needed it most, but farming and the close connection to our land is now something that I can no longer live without. My great-great-grandfather, Leonard Graves, purchased our land 100 years ago, and every year since then the Graves family has had some source of agriculture on that sacred soil. I want to carry on our family’s legacy and I love knowing that our farm has a future in me.
In gardening, I found myself again. Out between the rows of corn and beets I am able to be the truest and most authentic version of myself. Like I said before, I didn’t like the person I was turning into in order to survive my job. Now, I am so proud of who I am. I know exactly what I stand for, and I know precisely what makes up the soil I stand on. I no longer feel the need to try to fit perfectly into one category and I am so much more happier for it. Gone are the days of self doubt and insecurities, instead I’m filled with hope and visions of my bountiful future. I love working outside and being in nature, and I am very proud of the rough calluses that have turned my hands into working hands. Farming is what makes my heart sing with passion!
Despite everything, I live with no regrets. My career gave me a jumpstart in life and I was able to provide so much for myself because of it. I am proud of skills I have developed, and I am grateful for the many wonderful people that I have met along the way. I read somewhere that the average person in my generation will change careers at least three times in their lifetime, so I guess it’s just par for the course and this is a natural shift. I am so thankful for what x-ray has given me and above all else, it makes me savour this next part of life so much more.
Not having a plan and not knowing how things will turn out terrifies me, but I have faith in myself and the land that I grow on. I have always known that those gravel roads will lead me home and this is just the start of my journey back to where I come from. What an incredibly exhilarating adventure this will be!