A heads-up; I wrote this with the intention of keeping it private. However, me being me.... public it is. I apologize if its not coherent.
We have just exceeded our halfway mark in this crazy life we call Peace Corps, so with the amount of reflection I have gone through, I decided I might as well put pen to paper, figuratively of course. This is Peace Corps after all. Hello computer, internet, connectivity. Posh Corps however is not the purpose of this entry. I would consider it more, in my current sense of melancholy, a time of recognition of the struggles I had never imagined I would face, as well I suppose the successes as PC has us refer to everything from big projects to personal achievements should be covered as well.
When joining the Peace Corps, I had thought my struggles would be isolation from friends, struggle with language and/or culture, and not quite being qualified enough for the job I would have. Some of these do come into play, but they do not emotionally pull at me. I often have to combat my self-deprecating comparisons and thoughts that I am not doing enough for my community. But this is something I see in the eyes of other volunteers occasionally. The real struggle, the one that I had never ever ever expected, something I have never had to really come to terms with, with the sense of people entering and leaving my life just as quickly as they came. I had just graduated from college and had to break ties with many friends I had, then I jumped into Peace Corps with two feet. I have grown close to some, I have developed friendships, relationships, although I remind myself that nearly all the people I meet and get to know on a personal level I will never meet again. It is incredibly difficult to not be close to some, and I do find myself being avoidant, or pushing people away. Of those who leave, some I miss and some I just say bye and walk away. There is a barrier I have built to protect myself from having more goodbyes to make.
There is another, maybe the most fearful of goodbyes, the lingering, the reminder. As many people know, my father was sick throughout my senior year of college with pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed after I began my application process for Peace Corps, and thankfully went into remission as I was leaving to come to Macedonia. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed again with a cancer in his lymph node in his neck shortly after we returned from our cruise in July. He had spent most of the cruise sick which makes me concerned how much of this illness was due to the lymph and how much of it was previous to actually coming. Did my dad risk his health just to see me? How much pressure am I putting on them by being here, by not being that supportive person in their lives? I had clear understanding that if they ever decide I need to return, I will. However, I do not trust them so much in this. After seeing how things have changed, or how many things have not changed from when my father was ill last time, I felt that they were never going to tell me if they really needed me to come back. This part is still an unknown.
Either way, the biggest struggles at this time are those feelings of constant goodbyes with little promise of a hello, or a stability. Am I getting old and wanting to ‘settle down’ as my mom says? I crave what I have always craved and have achieved only part of. I crave real and true friendships, relationships with people who I have more similarities than differences. I believe that these people out there, no matter how hidden. I crave that sense of adventure that other PCV’s crave, that sense to explore, to appreciate, to live and breathe something new. I always have wanted to have the experiences I am having. I want to meet people from cultures I have not interacted with previously. I want experience, share, and give the human kindness within us all. I am doing all of these things, and these are the experiences I live for. These are the reasons I have not ET’ed yet.
I have grown a lot since I first arrived. I have developed a balance with my own confidences and sometimes lack there-of. In some ways I have grown, they have not been in favor for myself and I hope that in time I can change those things. The residual of distance from the emotional connection I say I want so bad, but I still avoid. However, I am only twenty-four. I have a lot of time to grow and to reach that goal. Unfortunately, my own problems with this affect others. In this last year, I have become more honest, more outspoken, and more courageous. I have realized my reason for being a PCV in Macedonia. I have realized how amazing it is to interact with all of my amazing students. My anxiety over situations I find myself in has decreased and my coping mechanisms have changed drastically. I have met some incredible people who have taught me a lot about myself, about the type of person I want to become, as well as the type of person I don’t want to ever be like. I have learned about the inherent goodness in children, about how they will help this country so much in the future. I have placed a lot of hope in the children I teach to create good in our world. I have developed my old ideals into ones that I want to live by, that I want to remind myself of as time continues. I know and trust that everything will become clear when it needs to. Whatever I do next will become clear, whenever I need to go home will become clear. The relationships that will last throughout this experience will become clear. The connections will all become clear. It just doesn’t need to be so clear, yet.