Life Lesson

Fifteen years ago, I went to graduate school to become a history professor. While I received my MA in military history, I never received my PhD, for which there are a myriad of reasons and misfortunes, so while I could have become an instructor, I knew I’d never be a professor. You all know I spent five years teaching middle and high school history, even though I was an actual trained historian. That is not a slight on any middle or high school teacher, but it was not for me. For the past fifteen years, I tried to tow the line and do what I was expected to do. In other words, I did as I was told. I had very little ability to pursue my own path, but the path set for me by others. All those experiences though led me to my current opportunity.

I really do love my new job. I’m still getting my predecessors’ filing systems figured out, but I made great progress last week. Both of my predecessors left rather abruptly and, as I understand it, not on the best terms with the museum. Neither of them were very good fits for the position. However, my new employer and my coworkers are excited to have me join the team, mainly because of my education and experiences that I never dreamed would actually lead to a job. Here is probably the most wonderful thing about my new job: my boss came to me Friday and we were discussing sorting through everything, and she told me, “This is your job, not your predecessors. I have full faith that you will figure all of this out and that you will get this program up and running again and going in the right directions. Do what you need to do. You have my full support.” How wonderful is that?! Though some of the groundwork has already been put into place, I am being given full authority to make this job what I have in mind for it, not what someone else thinks it should be.

As I look at the work that has already been done, it is truly fascinating. I cannot stress that enough. I am enthralled by what I have to begin with. While I am not happy with the way things were done before, my filing system will make it more efficient as will my philosophy on how the job should be performed. Maybe that sounds too overconfident or maybe even self-aggrandizing, but I know I am the right person for this job. I knew it the minute I saw the job announcement. I am very glad that my new employer could and does see that as well. I have my vision of how I want this job to proceed, and I plan for when phase one of this project is finished for it to be an integral part of the museum’s mission and to be a significant contribution to the modern era of this historic institution. Yes, I have grand ideas, and while everything may not go exactly as planned, I was given a job to do and I will accomplish it to the best of my ability.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that my MA is in military history. Because I am gay, I was subtly steered away from making military history my career. I believe that it was because being gay and studying military history seemed to be contrary to one another. However, it was what I was most passionate about in my study of history. Yes, there were other historical fields that peaked my interest, but none like military history did. So for me to have a job that largely deals with military history, I feel vindicated about my original course of study. And from what I’ve delved into about this program so far, my interest in military history and my interest in human rights will be one of my greatest assets in this job.

To say that I am excited about my work and to say that I am eager to get to work is an understatement. (Today is an unexciting half day of orientation, one of three I must attend over the next month.) This job may not have been in my original idea for a career, and I may have pursued other pursuits in the past, but once I let God lead the way and put my faith in Him, He has put me on the path I was meant to be on. For the first time in my life, I feel that I am on he right path. If I’ve learned one lesson in the last (nearly) twenty years since I graduated high school and began my journey in higher education, it has been to pursue my dreams and not to let anyone discourage me.  

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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