Monday, July 11, 2011

"Tell the world that I'm coming home"

I am writing to tell you all officially that I am going home: Early Termination from Peace Corps Botswana.

I have been struggling with this decision and it certainly was not made easily, lightly, or without lots of thought and heartache. I have wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer for awhile, and it was a dream that I thought meant everything to me. I thought that in order to be a good person, a worthwhile person, that I had to do the most selfless and difficult thing I could think of. The Peace Corps is such a noble, generous, and prestigious pursuit- and that was all really important to me. However, I’m realizing that maybe I don’t need to be THE BEST person in order to justify my own existence. Before Peace Corps, I was feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied with my life. I had been looking unsuccessfully for a job and Peace Corps was something I’d been wanting to go for but hadn’t felt it the right time. After a year’s worth of job hunting, it was time for me to do it. The decision to join Peace Corps was also tough because it meant leaving behind a lot of people about whom I care deeply. But I felt that it would make me a better person and that I would do something that made others’ lives better, and that would be worth the sacrifices. In fact, the sacrifices were part of the appeal- almost like what I was giving up somehow would make my contributions to the world more valuable.

I've measured the value of myself with accomplishments and the level of difficulty of those accomplishments. I think it's ok to be proud of yourself and the things you've done, but I was letting that define me- what had I done that should make me really proud, what's worth being proud of, what is more elite in terms of selflessness and commitment to others and generosity and difficulty? Because if it's not hard, why do it, it's nothing to be proud of because anyone could do it. And that thinking was really destructive for me.

I’m realizing (and I don’t know why this took me so long) that harder doesn’t necessarily mean better. Maybe good works should not be measured by how much a person has to give up in order to do them. I want to be happy. I'm discovering that maybe being in love and being a wife and daughter and sister and friend may not be everything I need to make me incredibly happy all the time, but without those things, I can't be happy no matter how fulfilling my job might be. Instead of lowering my standards (the Bots 10 motto) for Peace Corps or Africa or Botswana, I need to lower my standards for myself.

I learned things about myself, but not the things I expected. I figured out that I’m not the person I thought I was, and not necessarily in a bad way. I don’t regret coming here- in fact, I still think it was something I HAD to do. I’m not sure that I won’t regret going home (I imagine to a certain degree, I will), but I know how I feel right now and going home is what’s best for me. I was worried about the disappointment I might cause in leaving- from my NGO, the Peace Corps, my fellow PCVs, my people at home, the people I’ve met here, etc., and the disappointment in myself. Staying was a decision I was making and would have to continue to make every day. Deciding to leave is a decision I can only make once and can't take back. I know if I stayed until the end I would probably be able to say, like most volunteers, "I'm glad I stuck it out". But just because I'd be glad I stayed doesn't mean that I won't be glad I left. Satisfaction from my decision could happen either way, as could dissatisfaction. And I'll never know "what could have been". But I think trying to be happy with what I have and who I am RIGHT NOW, not who I could maybe theoretically become, is what's best for me.

Thank you to everyone for reading my blog, commenting, sending me letters/emails/packages/texts, etc. Thanks for calling. Thank you for thinking of me back home and wherever you are. I appreciate all of your support!

I'm supposed to leave Botswana Wednesday or Thursday. I am working through medical out-processing, etc. The funnest part so far has been pooping in a jar! You know I couldn't go too long without mentioning poop. I will be staying in Gabs until I go. Working on packing my things and cleaning up my house before I leave it for good this morning.

Thanks for reading and best of luck to all of you!