Always Be Evolving - Evolution as Expansion
KAELYN CHARBONNET | COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Evolution comes in many forms, such as spiritual and intellectual, but my personal favorite is the transformation of self. One of the little things I appreciate most in life is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly as metaphorically it is very parallel to my past, present and future. Prior to employment here at the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES), I didn’t quite understand the beauty of evolution and the beast it releases. Being one of the youngest at the organization, I am very hard on myself. Not only did I grow up with the habits of a perfectionist, but now I am also challenged by an organization full of mature, intelligent individuals. The problem with that is that as I am faced with challenges it can be difficult for me to accept and understand both my rights and wrongs. Perfectionism is
a great thing to strive for, but I’ve come to a realization that it’s almost impossible…and that’s OK!
Being not-so-perfect is a major part of my personal evolution as I have learned to accept it as a part of the continuous cycle of my growth. The first tier of my evolution was constructed after I graduated with a Journalism degree from Loyola University in May 2016. My dream was to be a TV/Radio Reporter. It was always said that attaining a job right out of college would be a struggle as the media world is very hard to break into, especially being a young woman of color at an entry-level position, and they weren’t lying. For a year, I learned what it was like to feel stagnant. I worked in a boutique making barely enough money to survive. Fun fact, I love fashion - but hated working retail. I felt like I was over-worked for pennies. It was definitely more of a hustle than I thought. For the first 4 months of that job, I was miserable. Instead of putting more energy towards my goals - obtaining that dream job, working in my field and setting myself up for financial independence - I did the bare minimum. I lost motivation and became complacent. Not only was I doing something that was never really a dream of mine, but I felt as though all of my hard work and good education had gone to waste.
Then one day, something came over me. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but something clicked. I started to change my mindset and habits for the better. I put more energy into feeling better, which ultimately caused me to perform better. I started to workout and pray daily, causing me to think more clearly and sharpen my focus. I also spend regular amounts of time at coffee shops each week to do research and apply, apply, apply. As a result, my attitude changed. From that moment, I realized the work I was doing was not a complete waste. In a short amount of time, I learned how to completely run a boutique and all that it entails. Instead of focusing on the lack, I looked at all I actually gained. I developed the character of a chameleon as I made sure to adapt to any environment I was placed in. I also developed the mentality of a sponge as I soaked up all that I was able to from any situation. I treated every experience like an opportunity.
Fast forward to now. After losing that job, going through filing unemployment and a bunch of rejected job applications later, I experienced a revelation. I found my perfect place as the Media and Communications Coordinator at IWES. Taking that one valuable lesson of being a sponge has made me more grounded. Here at IWES, I am constantly learning - whether it’s about the content of the programs, the work we do for the community, and all the little things in between (like the language, brand and style of the organization, for example). Not only am I working in my field and expanding my skills, but I am also able to embrace all of my knowledge and talents here. I am able to be both a leader and team player in my work environment!