Escaping Existential Dread with a Leap of Faith

September Great Story by Angeline Foshay, 2018-19 Central Coast Climate Fellow

It’s hard to know where to start when writing about an experience that’s been so transformative in such a short amount of time. Just two months ago, I was staring at my computer screen at my stable nonprofit job with decent pay, thinking to myself, “I can’t believe you’re about to quit your job with absolutely nothing lined up, you must be crazy.” I was feeling crushed by the weight of my own uncertain future, not knowing what I wanted to do but knowing where I was currently wasn’t where I needed to be. I took a deep breath, stood up from my desk, then immediately proceeded to hand in my two weeks’ notice, and have a tough, but honest conversation with my bosses about my professional goals. When asked about what I was going to do next, I did not have an answer other than that I was hoping to pursue an opportunity where I could hone my sustainability and climate action skills. I trudged back to my workstation, thinking about what an awful mistake I just made until I saw that an email had arrived during my meeting. I couldn’t believe my luck when I opened the email and read my offer letter from CivicSpark for the City of Goleta’s 100% Renewable Energy project.

I took a chance when applying for CivicSpark, and while not everyone in my life understood why I was choosing a different professional path, I knew it was the right choice for me. Throughout the interview process, I found myself getting excited by the prospect of public service and was fascinated by the work that Goleta had done in the field of sustainability. I had a gut feeling that this was an opportunity I could not pass up, and I followed my instincts. Since accepting my CivicSpark offer, time has been put on fast forward — racing through orientation and the first few weeks of service, expanding my network while trying to wrap my head around my newfound public service commitment.

I’ve now started to settle in at the City of Goleta, faces and names around the office are now more familiar, and work is starting to pick up. In my first month, I’ve secured the city’s recertification with the Santa Barbara County Green Business Program on my own — researching and gathering data on the municipality’s energy, waste, and transportation policies and performing a facility walkthrough with the Green Business program coordinator. I’ve tracked key community indicators to help sustain the city’s STAR Community rating and have helped my site supervisor gather documentation for our strategic energy planning consultants. I’ve attended an incredible conference of cities dedicated to 100% renewable energy, where I met mayors and consultants and city managers all dedicated to a sustainable future that I’ve always dreamed of but now feel hopeful that we can achieve. I’ve felt pretty competent and confident with all things considered, but most importantly, I’ve felt excited about the work I’m doing and its potential impact on my community.

Taking a chance and investing in yourself, giving yourself the space to learn and grow professionally is the best choice you can make. I think back to where I was not even 2 months ago, so uncertain of my future, and feeling the weight of the existential question: what am I meant to be doing with my degree, my experience, my life? I want to tell myself what I’ve now been reminded of from the CivicSpark experience: your future is in your hands and you have everything within you that you need to succeed. Simply put, you’ve got this. I’m thankful and excited for this opportunity and whatever may come from my participation in the CivicSpark program. It’s both the scariest and most rewarding leap of faith I’ve ever taken.