The past few months have been a whirlwind of events, both in my apprenticeship and elsewhere. As an older apprentice, I have certain advantages over some my younger counter-parts: an established family/support system, stronger financial footing, and a child who is older and that doesn't need my constant attention. With these advantages, however, come a whole new set of challenges. I have more people who count on and rely on me outside of work...people who have become accustomed and used to me taking charge and "handling things", I care for aging parents. I have a teenager who is finishing up home-schooling. I have my own plethora of added responsibilities that some time seem to be conspiring to distract me from my goals.
We had our first transfer in June. It was both exciting and stressful. No matter where you are, you always try to etch out your own niche. It comes naturally. Once you get your niche in the scheme of things, you find yourself getting comfortable. The thing about transfer time is it keeps you from getting too comfortable and, by extension, complacent. It enables you to explore new areas and gain new skills because it keeps you from doing one thing for too long. The advantages are that you become a much more well rounded and valuable apprentice, and one day, journeyman. It can be stressful, however, to be moved out of a "comfortable" spot. I found it to be really helpful to focus on the excitement rather than the stresses. Even so, a new schedule, new location, and new commute can make the distraction/apprenticeship balancing act a bit tricky. Staying positive and focusing was key.
I got the opportunity to experience my first deck this summer. It was pretty wild!! For years, I had driven past jobs under construction and paused to see the cranes moving and the people moving about like ants from a distance. I was very excited the first day to go onto the site. It was great!! There was so much to see and learn. I had never imagined how much detail and coordination goes into the creation of a building--from the planning of pipes in the floor and ceilings to hold wire to the way that the concrete is reinforced----it has been a truly mind-blowing experience. I have moved around a bit this summer, but I hope to go back to the deck soon....it was hard work but a great experience.
Late summer and fall brought some health problems--colds, allergies, respiratory infections---but the cooling off of the weather was a welcome change. All in all, fighting the distractions and staying on course to achieve my goal of being the best apprentice that I can be (so that I can one day be the best journeyman that I can be) has required quite a bit of juggling, struggling, and refocusing. That is another great thing about our union....knowing that you are not struggling and juggling alone. As union brothers and sisters, we find encouragement not only at school, but on the job. It is a great feeling to know that for the most part, the people around you want you to do well instead of waiting for you to fail. In the middle of all the struggles and distractions that life has thrown my way over the last few months, I feel blessed to be a part of this union family and to have the opportunity of apprenticeship that I have been given.