The Feeling Of Being Lost

As I look back to a time when people began asking me “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, I remember with struggling with just picking one thing.

  • I wanted to be a Landscape Architect. Today it would be with an understanding of sustainable practices and using native plants.
  • I wanted to be an Interior Designer. I have a large pinterest board of projects I would like to do.
  • I wanted to be a Teacher, but had no idea what to teach.
  • I wanted to be a Photographer, ranging from a Photojournalist to Aerial, to Forensic. I miss not being behind my camera as much.

Before making my decision to become a National Park Ranger I felt lost. There were so many ideas and options in my head it was hard to narrow it down. My first year of college I started going for a degree in Art and photojournalism. I still felt lost though. In my personal life I was planning on becoming a stay at home mom, and doing photography on the side. It just felt like I was settling. After breaking up with my boyfriend I decided to transfer schools and work to become a National Park Ranger.

I was beginning to feel like I was on the right path. I enjoyed my classes and my jobs with the NPS. It seemed like this was the job for me. I was a teacher, spent time outdoors, and could still take photos. I know just how lucky I have been the last five years working for the National Park Service. (Even if I complain on here a lot.)

It’s been amazing and life changing.

But I’m beginning to feel lost again. I feel this pull towards photography, social media, creating publications, and other forms of digital media. I feel a pull towards starting a life with my boyfriend, instead of just spending a few months a year together. I want a house where I can make it feel like a home. I want a yard where I can have a garden and play in the dirt. I want to start a family.

I’m finding it difficult to do all that I want with the NPS.

I don’t know what the year has in store for me, but hopefully I can figure it out.

4 thoughts on “The Feeling Of Being Lost

  1. Hi Ranger Kaiti.
    You sound like many young Rangers and those with the whole world and life ahead of them. It seems like there are so many paths to take, but which one does one take? The right path for you, always. Follow your heart, is the best advice I ever received when I was a young Interp Ranger. I was looking at the cycle of a seasonal Ranger life, with a fresh degree in Wood Science and Park Administration.

    But life was very different, more than 40 years ago, so many ways. But now reading your lament, I recognized it as exactly as my own, at Rocky Mountain National Park. The same issues of getting hired and dealing with the restrictions and Vets Preferences (then Vietnam). I wanted the same thing, then, that you are voicing now. My non NPS peers were settling down, starting families, buying homes and charting their future. That was something I couldn’t do as a seasonal Ranger. But many did make that choice and I never lost touch with those that did take that NPS path.

    During a SAR mission, at Rocky Mountain NP, I was working with two outside agencies for the search. That is when one approached me, offering me a career for twice what I was making as a Ranger, Benefits and a retirement. I applied and then had a wonderful career and now a retirement.

    Those NPS peers that took the path stayed with me, as friends. One day I retired and felt the pull once again. Many do at that stage in their lives and come back as a Volunteer, or return as a Uniform. Thanks for the NPS work I did 35+ years ago, and the resume’ I built with my career away from the NPS, I suddenly have an application that is hard to have as a 25 year old recently graduated college graduate.

    So, Ranger Kaiti do follow your heart and your dreams but never think you are leaving the NPS behind. Because it will always be there. Those contacts you are making now will still be there, 30 years from now. When your kids will be visiting you with their own kids, as you work again for the parks. If you even doubt this, come look me up in Yellowstone. I won’t be hard to find as I will be that older looking Ranger with the twinkle still in my eyes and a white beard. The difference? Is that I know what you are wanting is possible.

    Always the best to you, Ranger Kaiti.


  2. Hi Kaiti! I have been feeling the same way for a while now. After living in Germany for 3 years and getting divorce from my ex who served in the Air Force I decided I needed a change. I started my seasonal ranger career with the Army Corps of Engineers in Ohio, in 2014 (My home state). Then I moved onto the NPS and worked as an interp ranger at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas last summer (2015). I then went on to complete the SLETP and will be starting my law enforcement ranger career at Mesa Verde this summer. 10 days away! I have also began to want to settle down again, have my own home, and get to see my boyfriend more than I do now. At the same time I still have a wanderlust for traveling and seeing the world and working for the NPS. But that’s life for now, you can’t have it all! Good luck in Alaska! I got an offer as an interp at Klondike Gold rush up there for this summer season, but decided as much as I wanted to travel to Alaska, I wanted to start my law enforcement career while the training is still fresh.


    1. Oh you will love your coworkers at Mesa Verde! That place is where my favorite Law Enforcement people are. Send me an email sometime, especially if they start giving you a hard time! 🙂 Tell them Kaitlyn said to be nice to you.


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