by Kathlyn Eklund
It’s about 3:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. I sit at my desk staring at a Facebook post, unable to push the send button. I am gripped by the familiar feeling of fear. For months I have been working to bring glass recycling to the City of Red Lodge, and I have finally done it. All my researching and inquiring has paid off, and today is the day I get to announce that we have partnered with an art center in Billings who will be turning our glass products into beads and sand for their artworks. Its great news and everyone in town will be ecstatic, but I can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t going to work out as I have planned. I find myself reading and rereading the post, searching for typos and anything that could be criticized. I imagine the art center becoming completely buried in wine bottles and mason jars, and shutting down the program. I envision angry citizens slandering my name online and attending City Council meetings to request my removal. Obviously, having these thoughts at this point in time is unwarranted, but that doesn’t make them any less real in my mind.
February marks my fifth month of working for the City of Red Lodge and reminds me that I am about halfway through my service term. At this point, most of the projects and initiatives I have been working on are taking shape. The initial Energy Conservation Plan Taskforce meeting is on the calendar, my first grant is about to go out, and budget discussions that will decide the fate of our streetlights will soon begin. The planning portion of my service year is over, and now it is time to keep good on my promises and turn my ideas into actions. But this is the scary part. This is the part where fear creeps in and reminds me of all the ways it could all go wrong. It feels like the rest of my service term will require me to constantly push away that fear and self-doubt, but maybe that is part of the process.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes and push send, while quietly reminding myself that this position is not only about serving and bettering a community, but also about growing as a person and developing skills that college can’t teach. For me, those skills include learning how to approach challenges from a positive perspective rather than fixating on potential negatives. My hope is that through asking for help, attempting to meditate, and just jumping in, I will be able to stop fearing fruition.
Kathryn Eklund holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Eckerd College. Prior to Energy Corps, Kathryn worked for environmental consulting firms, conservation organizations, and in child development. Kathryn joined Energy Corps in October 2017 and will serve in the City of Red Lodge as a Sustainability Educator. She will assist them in reducing energy costs, improving their recycling program, and drafting carbon saving goals for the future. She will also monitor the impact of existing projects such as electric car charging stations and LED street lights.