No matter what your belief system, there comes a time when you must accept that there was an intervening force in your life that led you to a particular place and time. You can call it Divine Intervention or you can call it destiny, but I will right here and now admit, that “something” led me to walk into the Mansfield Johnson Amateur Radio Service meeting in January of 2015.
I’d become a licensed Technician Class Operator the previous spring, but I never followed through. I’d invested some money and, even more precious to me than the money, a lot of time earning that license. Unfortunately at that point, I made a critical mistake: I did not immediately associate myself with a club after I completed my training class. What happened next was really no surprise. Within a month or so, my license got tucked away into a nice safe place, my radio got boxed up and in a very brief period of time, it all became just so much history.
As the months crept by, though…I felt pulled to actually learn ham radio operation.
I’m not talking about learning the test answers. I’m talking about learning the rules of Repeater Road, grasping the ins and outs of Radio Button Pushing 101, and understanding the magical ways in which signals move through our atmosphere. I wanted to be useful to my community if push came to shove.
I had never even met a ham radio operator in “real life”, so I was clueless as to the large and very unique sub-culture that is Ham Radio. Imagine my surprise when I sat down in my chair at my first meeting and took note of my surroundings. Out of about fifty attendees, five of them were women. I brought two friends with me, so that was three of the five. I was stunned.
Luckily for me, the men were warm and welcoming and what began as a tentative investigation of a club meeting turned into a landslide of information that nearly bowled me over with its depth and breadth. I was soon introduced to the concept of Elmering and very slowly, with the help of my Elmer Jim Erickson, KB0DBJ, I began to orient myself.
I’d love to tell you it’s been smooth going on this ride, but it hasn’t. It’s been the wildest, scariest, roller-coaster I’ve ever been on. I don’t even like roller coasters. To get me on one involves major bribery.
What it has been is life-altering. I’m not being dramatic. It’s the truth. I wouldn’t trade gold for the experiences this year has bestowed me. Ham radio walked into my life during the confluence of about five major life events that could have easily sent me into a depression that lasted a decade. What happened instead was -- it lifted me up.
How many of us roll through life without challenging ourselves? Just drifting along, enjoying the currents, the warm water lapping at our perfectly pedicured toes and watching the clouds roll by. The problem with this analogy is that when you drift, you may end up in places that you never intended to be.
Ham Radio challenged me. Some challenges required getting up and brushing off the dust (a few times) and other challenges were immediately successful. I let the fear guide me. Again. Not always immediately successful. But I took a deep breath and got over it. And with every challenge and success, my confidence blossomed.
Confidence is better for your self-image than any potion they try to sell you at the makeup counter, ladies, because here’s the rub. The day will come when you get caught without your makeup, but self-confidence radiates out from within. It spills over into every aspect of your life.
My wish for you is the same whether you are new to the hobby or are a more seasoned ham.
Last Sunday I heard a brand-new baby YL hit the PTT for the first time and check into a net. I knew exactly where her mind was because it hasn’t been that long ago for me that I was in the same place. I’ll not lie. I got a little misty as I cheered her on.
Hang in there, Girlie. You’ll get it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Marianne Williamson