I haven’t written in a long time.  I could chalk it up to me being busy or the holidays, but that’s not the full scope of it.  I recently started to write blogs about “new cooking sensations”, “holidays”, and “fancy New Year’s trees” to fill you in on what’s been going on.  Then something happened.  Losing long-time relationships in America caused me to realize I need to be more honest with my feelings.  The Peace Corps experience is not just about the events that happen, the new sensations I discover, nor merely about culture exchange; this experience is emotional.  I’d be lying to myself and to my readers if I did not admit that and write about it.  Here it is. My Emotions.

I don’t think I’ve had the greatest first year.  In fact, in many ways I have felt like a failed volunteer.  I made plans; I worked hard; yet I had nothing to show as a success.  The accumulated feeling came in the fall, but it was a build up from the summer.  I felt as though my ideas were not being taken into account at work; I couldn’t make my activities thrive; nor could I make the connections necessary to feel like the future would be different.  Plus the local language does not flutter off my tongue like it does for most volunteers.  Despite my inabilities, I pressed on like any good volunteer would do.  I made plans.  I talked to more people. I prepared for the fall.  I proclaimed it would be a great fall.  Then everything I planned failed.  No students came to my conversation clubs.  I couldn’t find a translator in order to teach a business class.  I felt stunted at work and drained of all the optimism I had possessed earlier on.  Staring down a new year of the same stuff felt daunting and completely miserable.

I truly did.  I felt miserable.  I felt worthless.  I felt incapable.  I questioned my own abilities, my reasons for being here, and the goals I had set.  What got to me more was the powerless feeling, that no matter what I did, what I planned, what I strived for nothing would change.  I could just imagine my Close of Service interview when my director would ask me, “What was your greatest achievement?”  The only answer I would be able to give is that I had persevered.  In this context, that’s not much of an achievement.  I can’t think beyond the scope of myself to even answer the question!  By that means, I had really failed as a volunteer.

Outside of work wasn’t much better.  I wasn’t making the relationships that I wanted.  These new relationships in my community were not like the friendships I had in the states.  Where were the girls my age that I could relate to?  Where were the people who shared my struggles?  I felt lonely.  There were people trying to connect with me, but for some reason I couldn’t bond.  Maybe it was the language. Maybe it was the cultural differences.  Maybe it was about the things we enjoyed.  Maybe it was all of it.  Then again, maybe it was me.

Long ago when I felt like this, I wrote down my feelings. Here it is:

 

Powerless

To hold up the weight

To carry on like I am

I can’t do it, any of it

Seems pointless to try

When you’re just going to breakdown

You’re not strong

Weak, powerless, ineffective

Talk about standing on a pile of sand

While the waves beat against it

Making you unstable

Soon falling, collapsing is the only option

 

Am I powerless?  No.  I know I am strong.  I know I am confident, intelligent, a conqueror.  I know these things, and I truly believe them.  At the moment, I have trouble getting passed it all.  This is the lowest low I have felt in a long while.  I can even count the times I felt like this before.  I remember them vividly.  I know the causes of each one.  Although I triumphantly came out of those times, the feeling of despair still looms.

Why am I still here?  Well, we all have lows.  We all have highs.  Being at a low doesn’t necessarily mean quitting.  I touched the bottom in November and December.  The best saying I’ve read about being this low goes like this, “You’ve never been more powerful than when you lying in a heap.”  You feel all the feelings I described above—plus a few not mentioned—lying in that heap.  In that heap, you have never been given a greater opportunity to rebuild yourself.  I’m rebuilding myself.  It’s a long process.  Not to say I won’t get pushed down a little every now and then.  I got to continue on.  There is my ambitions plus hope helping to drive me forward.  Some changes at my work have happened.  We have some new employees.  With new co-workers comes new enthusiasm and ideas.  I’m looking forward to working with them.  From the event that caused me to post this emotional blog, I realized I need to communicate more.  I need to communicate my feelings and ideas in all my relationships.

I can’t change the past; hoping things did not didn’t happen won’t help change it.  I can’t make people be more honest, more respectful, or at least truthful to themselves.  What I can do is change me.  Rebuild me into a stronger, more intelligent, more aware individual.  That I will.

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