A little over a week has passed since I completed my seasonal job over on Monhegan Island, a remote island located an hour away from the state of Maine. So many things have happened during my time on the island, but a couple of things stood out the most as the days flew by.
For starters, the island dwellers had a stronger sense of community due to it being a small town filled with locals. Everyone knew each other and acted like long-lost friends each time they saw one another. Towards tourists and seasonal workers, it was a mixed experience (at least for me). Some people were very curious about me due to me being a POC and there weren’t many POC in Maine (with the exception of Portland, ME). So I was mostly peppered with questions about where I was from, why did I visit Maine and if I had plans to move up north once the season was over. They seemed friendly enough and I was happy to make some conversation with strangers.
There were also people who clearly didn’t like anyone that was “different” than them and it showed through their reactions when I was around. I tried to not pay attention to them, but it still stung to see that some people refuse to change.
The work itself was nothing short of what I’ve already experienced after working in kitchens for years. I was hired to work the dish pit once more and I did more than what was expected of me. I quickly gained the respect and support of nearly all of management, even during times of hardship when no one would help me during busy times. Even now, I still speak with two of the chefs via social media after the season ended. I consider them friends as of now.
Unfortunately, those two and management were the only people I was comfortable around for the entire season.
The other co-workers were nothing short of “misfits.” I had issues with at least four of them and sometime around August, three people had quit due to the workplace becoming toxic and unsafe for me to enjoy working in. Gossip spread faster than a forest fire, the mentality hovering around was mostly relatable to my worst times in high school, and many times I’ve dealt with bullying and ridicule from the others because of my quirks and how I stayed in my own space, even while working. At one point I threatened to quit and leave the job early, but management pleaded for me to stay and finish the season. I made the choice to stay because by that point, the season was nearly over and I looked forward to leaving and never seeing the other co-workers again.
But for most stormy clouds, there are some silver linings. As for the island and Maine themselves, both were nothing short of beautiful. There was so much untouched land and rural areas that reminded me of imagery depicted in movie scenes that involved running through fields or walking through the wilderness. I found so many quiet spots on the trails to sit and write or listen to the waves crash against the island’s side. If I felt my passion for protecting the natural environment weaken, being on Monhegan and in the untamed parts of Maine helped strengthen that passion again. Many times I refused to take a photo or two because I didn’t want to interrupt the beauty that I saw with my own eyes.
The biggest upside to all of this? I learned more about myself than ever before, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I learned too many harsh revelations about my personality and character, but I also re-discovered my passions for fine art, photography and creating beauty products or remedies from plants available in nature. More importantly, I realized that I really enjoyed creating things with my hands and my “career” was meant to be focused on making something with my hands.
I felt that the signs were always there, but I ignored them or cast them aside due to fear and peer pressure from others. After leaving Maine, I made a vow to create a life where I can enjoy creating something, selling it to others and feeling happy about seeing others enjoy the things I create.
All in all, I’m glad I took the chance and drove all the way to Maine for the summer season. Not only did it give me the much needed break (of sorts) I wanted from what was driving me crazy in Florida, but it allowed me to rethink my future and ultimately decide to go for what brings me joy despite what others might think.
Life is too short for me to continue to subject myself to something I despise due to what is determined to be “successful.” So I will take my experience and move forward with renewed passion and tons of willpower. I hope you all take sometime to learn more about yourselves too.