I’m on a list. Not just any list. The list. After two years of training courses, uni study and extra workload I’ve finally made it onto the list. I’m on the emergency communications roster. And I am petrified.
I think I am prepared. I have my travel bag ready to go. I have the right amount of white singlets, cargo pants and branded t-shirts. I even have a media interview worthy travel make-up kit. And of course I have just downloaded season two of Phineas and Ferb, the best cartoon ever.
But no matter how prepared I think I might be there is the usual self-doubt that comes with going into an unknown situation. I’m nervous that I am on the verge of entering into the field I have wanted to work in since I was a kid. I feel a tad guilty that wanting to work in emergencies in some way means I’m tempting fate. And after studying terrorism and writing a research paper on the targeting of aid workers in the field I’m also scared that my security training may not be enough. In my darker moments, usually around 3am, I worry about what I will be like in twenty years.
I have a lot of friends and family members that are ex military, police, emergency services and of course humanitarian aid workers. After a few drinks you hear some stories, usually told with bravado and laughter. After a few more drinks you feel their silences and sit uncomfortably with them hoping that what you imagine is far worse than reality. After even more drinks you put your arms around them while they cry. Sometimes in the middle of an everyday conversation they just start recounting a gut wrenching experience and you just listen because what else can you do.
I listen to a lot stories. All my life people, including strangers, just seem to tell me their stories. Usually the ones they won’t tell anyone else. There is something rather magical about listening to or telling a story. I’ve often thought that if there is such as thing as a calling or God given gifts mine is to listen and tell stories. As petrified as I sometimes get around my current and future work I know it is worth it.
So armed with cartoons, my reSILLYence tactics, and the ongoing therapy that is writing a blog I will spend this Christmas and New Years on call, ready and willing to listen and tell stories.