New Home, Same Furniture

New Home, Same Furniture 
Shawn Miller, St John’s School

NRG Stadium has a maximum capacity of over seventy-two thousand people, yet over ninety-five thousand are packed in tonight. My wife, wearing boots purchased from Amazon, is chatting with my new colleague, his pair blending in with the sea of Cavender’s. He is spirited and kind, accepting our last minute invite to join us at the first Garth Brooks concert in Houston in seven years. As the lights dim and the crowd rises, I feel like I’ve finally encountered a small part of what it means to be Texan. 

Napa, California has a total population of around seventy-eight thousand people. With some of the finest wineries, restaurants, and natural beauty in the world at their fingertips, the tourists regularly outnumbered the residents, save for “heavy” traffic on the two lane streets. 

Change is always difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. I took a leap of faith and joined a two-person college-counseling office at a private school in Napa. Walking into work on my first day I was nervous. I had taken said leap and yet I was overwhelmed, wondering why I hadn’t just stayed with what was comfortable. 

Thrusting myself into a new role in Napa led me to  people I will carry with me for the rest of my life. A baseball coach that let me  mentor my students in a passion away from working on their college apps. A boss, friend, and mentor who  helped me thrive in the day-to-day and who    supported me in  professional endeavors. Ultimately, this led to a new role 2,000 miles from Napa in Houston. 

As an only child with working parents, I learned to rely on myself. This carried into adulthood, and eventually the employment sector. I’ve had all sorts of jobs in all sorts of industries at this point, and I’ve always taken on roles that tend to isolate. I gained confidence in my efforts generated from my own abilities and work ethic. 

Yet in the world of secondary and higher education, I’ve found confidence in those with whom I work. I’ve been lucky in each of my many stops to work directly with individuals who have reached the highest levels of professional growth and who are approachable and  share their  support. 

My colleagues have given me the strength to break out of my shell both professionally and personally, and in turn, I have gained an appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate with amazing people. I’ve had the chance now to mentor and give back in my own way, and through the guidance of those I’ve been lucky enough to share an office with, I’ve paid it forward accordingly. 

The shock of humidity in Houston can be paralyzing, and the first few weeks of my new job carried a similar feeling. It’s scary to start over again, but the exhilaration of the unknown and the helpful nature of new coworkers conquers all  fears. Throughout my move this summer, I  thought about one of my favorite shows, Ted Lasso, and one of his lines associated with change:

Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse, isn't it? If you're comfortable while you're doing it, you're probably doing it wrong.

A horse line for a new job in Texas still feels fitting, and just like the humidity and heat of Houston at 1:00pm on a weekday, the aspect of taking on a challenge should be uncomfortable. However, lunch at that time doesn’t have to be – a surprise my first day in office when my coworkers already had lunch covered. Challenges did and will continue to spring up, like understanding new acronyms for old buildings or tasks, meeting new students and families, or both cars breaking down within days of each other near Post Oak Pkwy. 

But with the bad comes the good, and whether it’s unplanned morning rides and kolaches for a week or impromptu tours of the three or four or five different ways to get to the other side of campus, the welcoming embrace of my new colleagues makes me appreciate the trials to come. 

So on a Saturday night when the band plays the opening chords to “Friends in Low Places,” I feel slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ninety-four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-seven Houstanians all singing at once. As Garth sprinted around the stage, swinging his guitar and howling out the chorus with us, it was comforting hearing one old and one new voice amongst the crowd. 

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