Saturday, April 19, 2014

No Regrets

Setting your mind to something and actually doing it. Traveling, writing a book, jumping out of a plane or landing a dream job, these are all things that we dream of everyday and only hope to accomplish someday. For me it is traveling. Not just sightseeing or that two-week break from work but actually seeing other cultures for what they are, learning from the people and understanding their way of life.
Peace Corps was not something that I had always dreamed of doing, it was not that I was against it but just never considered it something to get me where I wanted to go. Circumstances or plans change and people get antsy in their routine lives and sign up for the unimaginable. This is what makes up a majority of the Peace Corps population; people that enjoy helping people, able to learn another language and are free of major commitments that would hold them back.
My head is not in its normal place right now so I would like to pre-apologize if it seems more like I am ranting or putting together random thoughts versus telling a story or giving my unsolicited opinion. Days are being marked off the calendar and plans are being made in America as I am have less than a couple of weeks left at site. Of course there is that part of me that’s excited to be reunited with family and friends that I have not seen in two years. Before all of that happens though there is the reality of withdrawing from Senegal; my home for the past two years, the family that took me in when I only knew a handful of words, my counterparts that proved to me that with a little hard work anything can be done and all the kids that made it their mission in life to remind me to play and laugh.
Sure am going to miss these guys!
The only coping mechanism that I have come up with thus far for dealing with saying “see you later” to everyone here, because we all know I am horrible with goodbyes, is to pretend like I have a lot of time left and to go on with my days per usual. Not necessarily the most healthy way of dealing with it but I could think of worse. I mean, how do you express the amount of love and appreciation that you have for someone or an entire family unit when language is limited and the understanding of why we have to return back to the states is simply not there? Sure it seems like an easy fix to just stay, as many people recommend, but our lives are back home, our family, jobs, everything we have known. We have to go back, right? Well while that is a debate that I still have with myself everyday it may be a discussion that we have later. But really quick, am I going to get sick of the states again in a couple months? A year? Two years? I am going to go on the record that it is inevitable that I will feel this way, probably sooner than later, but that is what my dream job working for an international NGO is for.
Back on the original topic that I expected to talk about, accomplishing things that you once thought were unachievable or didn’t know you wanted until you did it. I was watching the miniseries Long Way Round featuring Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman traveling from the UK to New York via, well, the long way and not only has it inspired me to actually trek around the world since I have always dreamed of it but watching them reflect on the experience has encouraged me to take more initiative in actually doing things that I dream about and to work on actually being in the moment more with no regrets. A famous quote that I once heard, I actually want to get a tattoo of it, it is just a matter of how and where, goes something like “never look back and regret the past, at some point it was exactly what you wanted.” I can’t think of a phrase that is more true in my life, be it jobs, tattoos or even boyfriends and you just have to appreciate your past for what it was because it made you who you are today.
So how does all this babble circle around and relate to Peace Corps and me leaving Velingara in a matter less than a few weeks? On the hot days when it is reaching 112°F, when kids can’t seem to get the hint to get lost, when ants bite me when I lay on my floor because the heat radiating from my foam mattress is unbearable or when I simply just want to crawl into a hole and have just one day to myself but my surroundings seem to refuse, I have to remember that not only did I sign up to be here but I will someday, while it may be later than sooner, miss these exact moments. I will miss the kids yelling, I will miss the hot weather when it is freezing for months on end in Minnesota and I will miss the feeling of never feeling alone and always having someone to talk to.
Compared to other services that people have had in Peace Corps, though you shouldn’t really compare because everyone makes their service their own and since all circumstances are different there is really no level playing field to compare them on, I must say that I have had a successful one. I have never been short of work, my counterparts have been amazing (though we have had our tough times as we should considering the amount of time we spent together), my family makes me speechless with the amount of love and comfort they have given me and Senegal in general has been very understanding and kind. It was a good ride, no regrets and now on to the next unknown chapter in my life. With that being said, Velingara we have only a little bit of time together so lets make the most of it.


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