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!


  1. At least you got to poop in a jar...not a tiny-ass little prescription medicine bottle. The key is in the size of the container opening.

    ...not that I know from experience or anything.

    I miss you and I love you and I can't wait to see you happy and home.

  2. Good for you Tracy! You should be proud of what you did and what is to come! Sometimes it takes one experience to see that what you have in your life is all you needed all along. (I hope this isn't coming across the wrong way). I am glad you made a decision that makes you happy!!!

  3. your description of how going home is a decision you make once, while staying here (for me, senegal) is a decision you have to make every single day, is an apt one... it's true, every day you have to decide that this what you want to do. it's so hard sometimes. i think making the decision that is right for you is the best thing you can do. people who stay just to "stick it out," if they aren't happy, they aren't making the right choice. congrats for making the right choice for you. be happy! :) enjoy america!

  4. I'm so happy for you. You've had insights that some people never reach in their life. So well done! My guess is that you will probably easily find a job now and you'll be returning to the incredible beauty of upstate NY in summer with a greater capacity to enjoy it. Big Hug.

  5. Awwww, as a fellow SWOS I must say that I am both sorry (for not having the on-going opportunity to compare and contrast experiences) and happy (for the way that you sorted everything out and made a decision, rather than abreacted to a situation). You will be a successful counselor / therapist and I wish you the best getting re-established back in the States.
    Best wishes to you and safe travels!