A Healing Conversation with John Golda

As an intern you never know what your new position will entail and how well you will work and get along with your new team.

I was very nervous as my second week approached and I was invited to get a tour of the nearby town by the Interpretive team’s Operations Manager, John Golda. John Golda is essentially the supervisor of my supervisor. I was nervous because of my previous experience with people in leadership positions. It can be intimidating as an intern to meet someone who is higher up on the totem pole. I prepared for the day, hoping for the best. 

To my delight right away John Golda was welcoming and a breath of fresh air. He introduced his very friendly pets to me and we had lunch. He gave me a history of his experience in the Northern California area and how he came to be who he essentially is. As our conversation continued I was more and more assured that he was an ally of my work and he was rooting for my success. This was a shock to me. I was so used to being looked down upon by those above me that being reassured of my strengths was strange to me. When speaking to John Golda I felt like my words were safe and not judged. My words were not being misconstrued but instead valued. We spoke about imposter syndrome and how everyone can fall victim to it, even him. Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not where are you are supposed to be, that you doubt your accomplishments. It is the fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Being a first generation Latina this is something I constantly struggle with. The feeling that my accomplishments are because of pure luck and not because I worked hard for them. John Golda made sure to dispel my fears that I am not an imposter but instead that just from the conversations I have had with him, I very much was awarded this position because of my achievements and work ethic. To have someone in leadership say this to you is monumental. As interns sometimes we are overlooked and overworked but that is not the case here at Point Reyes National Seashore. 

I feel like my journey led me meet John Golda and to receive the encouragement I needed. I had my confidence knocked down by previous mentors and I am slowly building myself back up. I can only hope that if I every get to a supervisor position I am just a fraction of the kind supervisor that John Golda is. It is refreshing to meet a supervisor that gives you positive affirmations, that tells you not to give up, and tells you that the world needs you. The compassion and empathy that John Golda showed me that day will be remembered for the rest of life. 

I also made sure to ask him “What is some advice you wish you could give your younger self?” to which he replied, I am paraphrasing but it was along the lines of do not rush. Often times young people my age believe that by their mid 20s or by the time they complete their education certain goals NEED to have been met. In doing so we may rush to make certain decisions or commitments. In doing that we take paths that are not true to ourselves. I thought that by the time i graduated I would have a full time job with a 401K and benefits. That is not the case but as John Golda said THAT IS OKAY! It is okay to not have the three bedroom home with a backyard by age 23, we do not need to rush ourselves to reach these hard milestones that society expects us to. I also shared with him my doubts about making it into the Park Service as it is a very competitive field. He explained to me his journey to getting into the Park Service and comforted me by saying that if this is something i really want to pursue, I need to plant the seed and make it happen. It is possible. 

I hope John Golda gets into the Ted Talk business, I can see him inspiring many minds. There is so much that I want to do, sometimes I feel like my ambitions are bursting at the seams but I am determined. I have ideas that jump from page to page but I need the power to take those ideas off the paper and into the third dimension. Everyone wants to be great and I think that is point, to not be content with mediocrity but strive to be better. 

Until Next Time, 

Ruby Gonzalez

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