Every Y Has Their Y Story

Every Y Has Their Y Story

#WhyIY
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Back in August, I started working for the Y. Since then I have been told on several occasions that I needed to know my Y story because at some point I would be asked what my Y story is. “My Y Story: Whether you come to the Y to work, play or volunteer, whether you are 5 or 55, we want to know what the Y means to you.” I was also told, several times, that if my Y story was “just that you needed a paycheck, that will change” and “it won’t be that for long.” Well, they were right. While I came to the Y originally because I just needed a job, that is no longer the only reason.

I found my Y story in a very unexpected way. On my way back to work one afternoon I stopped to get coffee, nothing unusual there. Colorado has these little drive-thru shacks called Dutch Bros, which is better than Starbuck, and the people that work there are always upbeat and happy. They almost always ask you how you are and what you’re up to and stuff like that. So I pull up to the window, place my order, and then proceed to talk to the person who had taken my order.

As always, I was asked what I was up to for the rest of the day and, as always, I responded with “Headed back to work.” Every now and then I get asked where I work, today was one of those days. I told her that I’m Before and After School Care Site Director. Normally the response I get is something along the lines of “Oh cool” and then they hand me my coffee. Today was not a normal day. The girl inside the shack responded with “Oh, like for the Y?” Shocked, I told her yes. She then told me that when she was younger she would attend the Y Before and After School care and that she had loved it. She then handed me my coffee and told me to have a good day. I left feeling good that I work for something that obviously had a positive impact on someone and feeling that maybe I could do that for my kids.

I got to work, it was a Thursday which meant that I had a group of students that are rowdier than groups I have during the rest of the week. Part of the issue is that I have this one bunch of kids that really like to push not only my buttons but my Group Leader’s buttons as well. As I was sitting there signing in all the kids who were there one of the button pushers walked up to me and said, “My parents think that you guys are so much better than the other programs we went to.” Not really paying too much attention to this I just said “That’s nice. Don’t forget to wash your hands for snack.” What he said next shocked me. “I think you guys are much better too. The other people were mean and you guys are fun. We don’t get in trouble for no reason here.” And then he got in line to wash his hands. When I say that this shocked me, I’m not joking. Here is this kid who likes to cause trouble and push our buttons and complains about the activities we do telling me that he likes it here.

Now you may be wondering, “OK, so what does this have to do with your Y story?” Well, this is my Y story. I Y because of kids like the girl working at the coffee shack and the kid who pushes my button. I Y because it means I get to be that positive impact in someone’s life. I Y because while it is a job and I get a paycheck, I get to make a difference in someone’s life. What started as a job and a paycheck turned into so much more.

Cover Image Credit: Blair Gruendl

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 A.M. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest,

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old doom room is now filled with two freshman trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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The Graduation Speech I Never Got To Share

I never received the opportunity to share my speech at my high school graduation, so here I am, sharing it with the next class.
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I never received the opportunity to speak at my own graduation, so I thought maybe I could instill wisdom to the upcoming graduation class of 2018:

1,460 days of wondering, wondering if we would make it to this day. Today marks the culmination of our 1,460 day journey — we are the graduating class of 2017.

Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are torn between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future. Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives, or instead, should we focus on the next stage in this journey called life?

We’ve been impatiently waiting for this day for four years — and now, we just want to hit pause. We want to slow it down and enjoy the last fleeting moments. Our lives will be forever altered after we toss our caps into the air.

They say that high school is the best time of our lives. For some of us, this isn’t the case. But, whether some of us will admit it or not, there are things we are all thankful for throughout these past four years.

We are thankful for the everlasting memories, the spontaneous adventures (even if they are to McDonald’s at midnight for brain food) or spray painting the camel that sits in front of the school. We are thankful for the people we meet, good and bad, because no matter what, they each played a small part in sculpting us into the people we are today.

The optimistic take on life is having one heck of a time until life comes back and punches them in the face. The pessimist would go through life and punch oneself before life was even able to make a fist.

One of the flaws in human nature is to focus on the negative things in life. Because of this, over the past few years, almost all of us have been sitting around groaning about how excited we are to leave this town behind us.

We’ve lost a lot of beautiful souls to demons hidden behind their smile. Our closest friends have moved to states on the opposite side of the country and left us to fend for ourselves. That dreadful walk from the junior lot in all kinds of weather is one that I’m beyond happy to see disappear in my rearview mirror.

Let’s be honest, all those movies we watched growing up, gave us such unrealistic expectations about high school which fueled our negativity. Growing up here, the underdog doesn’t get the high school hottie. At one point or another, we all imagined ourselves in the shoes of the kid who was always overlooked but came out on top at the end.

Even though that may not have been the case, watching those movies and putting ourselves into perspective ignited a flare of hope. That fire burned brighter and brighter every day for most of us. For others, it was too quickly extinguished. It may not seem like it, but those souls are here with us today in our hearts and they will never be forgotten.

Let us not concentrate on the evils of high school, but let us turn to the good. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to miss the many clichés of high school: those enthusiastic taunting screams from our student section under the Friday night lights, the frantic 38 minutes at lunch we’ve all spent going to get fast food and back while still getting a good parking spot, sitting back and enjoying a bowl of popcorn while soaking in all the latest drama and love triangles, hollering at our friends at the opposite end of the halls, or submitting that paper at 11:58 AM to still walk away with a passing grade.

We entered high school four short years ago as an unwritten book eager to fill the pages. A book that would be written in our own terms. The diploma that we receive represents success and achievement, but we must remember more of the journey that accompanied this achievement – both the heartache and happiness.

The diploma itself is gently tucked away in the appendix of our book, while the journey to attain it fills page after page.

I was told that with every speech, advice is to be given. So, here is my advice: This isn’t the time to make hard, fast decisions. The moment you cross this stage, be a little reckless and carefree.

Go make mistakes, major in philosophy, get on the wrong flight, and fall in love over and over and over again. Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your Mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do tomorrow, work hard and don’t be lazy (procrastination is the exception), and put away your darn phone every once in awhile. Be nice to jerks, because we still don’t know the criteria for getting into heaven yet.

Each and every one of us was meant to do something big, something life-changing. I cannot wait to see what paths you all take, and the obstacles you overcome.

I spent many nights writing this speech until my eyes went cross-eyed. Never was there a time when I was sure where I was going with it, but one thought kept returning to me like a broken record. That thought being: thank you.

Now, I know I’m not close with all of you, but I am thankful for every single person sitting in front of me. You have taught me extremely valuable lessons these past four years, lessons I don’t even remember learning. Lessons that no one else could ever teach me, lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

I’ve said it a thousand times already and I will probably say it a thousand times more: thank you, Class of 2017! And may I be amongst the first to say, congratulations!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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