Growing Pains, Growing Gains: My Life Changing Redirection and Elevation

By Gia Ciriaco | Posted on July 22, 2021

Five years ago, if you were to ask me how I’d see myself thriving in the world of Rotary and Rotaract, you’d probably be surprised to hear me say I see myself as a Rotarian, most likely serving in the same club my family joined and probably a president, continuing the same quality of service as a Rotaractor.

This Rotary Year started with a chock full of promise. The theme itself, Serve to Change Lives, was fitting and timely especially that this pandemic season unlocked untapped potential and opportunity, challenged people to think of alternative yet effective ways to serve and have a wider impact even without leaving the comfort and safety of the their own homes. Knowing how innovative and persevering Rotarians and Rotaractors are, I am confident we have another successful year ahead. The new Rotary President, Shekhar Metha even shared in his opening speech that Rotarians love challenges. As someone always looking for ways to make the most out of this life, it’s motivating to hear the leader of this organization share the same thoughts as I do. I’d like to believe that service is a way of life and I am always grateful to be around some of the most service-oriented, selfless clubmates, mentors and leaders to help me discover and learn as we live it.

Truthfully, on a somewhat personal note, I thought the year 2021 will be the time I take that pivotal transition from Rotaractor to Rotarian. Prior to Elevate Rotaract, it was expected that by the time you go beyond 31 years old, you would move on and be with your sponsoring Rotary club, build your own Rotary club or join and/or be invited to a club. I joined Rotaract the last half of my 20s and knowing the by-laws at that time, I knew my Rotaract journey would come to an end and evolve into something greater. With that in mind, I was preparing myself for it. I didn’t want to start the next chapters in my life empty handed. Every new Rotary Year, every new role, I see to it I start fresh but with something new to offer and give space in mind for new things to learn and pick up along the way. It was an honor and privilege to serve my club and district and have the opportunity to share what I’m good at and to find time to listen and appreciate others can do as well.

Just like any organization, striving to grow and be strategic in leveraging the capabilities of their people, Elevate Rotaract happened. I was surprised because one of the key changes was to remove the age limit and allowing Rotaractors to stay Rotaractors. In my mind, I had to regroup. I began to think of questions like, do I still need to hang my Rotaractor hat at one point? Am I expected to wear these two hats? What else can I do if I decide to be both? I began to factor in too many things and I, like most people, had strong feelings about it. I figured out the best way to be on the same page or to see the benefit these changes will bring to the organization is to participate in conversations that allow people to ask questions, to get further insights and know how I can act on it. At the end of that dilemma, I began to arrange my next set of actions. Things may not work the way you want it but in most cases, these redirections will lead you to the best way it would work for you.

I’d like to say the start of this Life Changing year is a redirection for me. Maybe it is life’s way of letting me know I can still do a lot as a Rotaractor and that there’s never a linear path to the next destination. I can continue growing and learning and while I’m at it, shaping myself for the next big journey this will lead me. Through this redirection, I am also happy that this year, I am more involved with Rotarians through our District Programs group and I am serving as our Rotaract District Foundation Chair. Although I am still at a crossroads, carefully considering dual citizenship or not, I was more confident to step up to the challenges at hand because I know in my heart, it will yield something good.

It is true that change is constant and growth comes with some degree of pain or discomfort. When you see how these changes make you better, the questions and doubts in your mind won’t bother you as much. When the next opportunity presents itself, may it be finally becoming a Rotarian or dual citizen, I know that I am equipped and capable. I am happy to know that by being a Rotaractor, I am not just improving the lives of communities we serve but improving the way I serve, the way I am using this life to serve and change others’ lives in the process. 

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