What do you do when you find yourself holding the job you’d planned to retire from at the age of 32, at least 15 years before you’d ever imagined yourself in that position? What do you do when you realize that as cool as this job is that (for reasons that do not reflect negatively on the position, employer, or myself) it isn’t the job you want to retire from? Did I mention that all of this was taking place during an unexpected period of major life change? What do you do in this situation?

You seek sanctuary.

A little before lunchtime on January 28th 1986 my fifth grade class sat in the school cafeteria to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger launch. One of the things that stuck out for me as I watched this terrible event unfold was how the two solid rocket boosters kept on firing and flying for what seemed like an eternity after the actual shuttle had broken up. On one hand it made perfect sense, it would be wrong if they stopped firing. We’d learned in science class how the solid rocket boosters would fire until they ran out of fuel. On the other hand it was terrifying and wrong that they kept going. Didn’t they know the shuttle had exploded? Why didn’t they realize that something terrible had just happened?

For some reason I thought of those boosters as I considered my future and how to approach the strange situation I found myself in a few years back. I was terrified of continuing to charge forward when it was obvious that I wasn’t on the path I needed to be on. At the same time I couldn’t stop moving forward, that would go against my nature and presented other risks. I was at an impasse.

The dictionary defines sanctuary as “a place of refuge or safety.” I feel incredibly fortunate for just what an amazing refuge DU has been for the last 9 months.  It has allowed me to continue moving forward by learning and gaining knowledge and skills I will use on my future path. I’ve been able to step back and reassess my direction and take a different look at the pathways available to me. It has allowed me to become more aware of my strengths, weaknesses, and identity while offering a safe environment for making adjustments to how I approach the world, communicate, and interact.

The end of this academic year has been a time of reflection about the past year and the year to come. For a while my reflections were lost in the details of how to approach my research project, what conferences to attend, what internships to apply for, whether or not I should apply to doc programs, etc. My perspective has shifted to look at these questions from the perspective of “how do I make the best use of a second year of sanctuary?” I’m glad it has.

Have fun out there.

The Cult liked the idea of sanctuary so much that they wrote a hit song about it…