Mid-Service or Home Stretch

I don’t know what has been going on lately, but it is difficult to find satisfaction in my life. I am not saying that I am squandering my life nor am I depressed, but I find that the original charm has worn off. I am accustomed to working in the schools and what I once saw as a novelty is ordinary. I have forded rivers, ridden horses, walked through cattle drives, chased pigs, and dealt with countless other experiences that would have seen alien in my former life. I am not bored, but I also don’t feel complete. Perhaps it is because I have too much time to think, yet I don’t know what I still hope to accomplish. My latrine project is beginning to wind down and my soccer league is on auto-pilot mode. I feel like I have completed my goals and I reluctant to start up another challenge. I originally equated it to me starting to become lazy, but there is more to it than that. In a sense, I am going through a crisis, what will define me for the next six months? I stand by my decision to join the Peace Corps, it has been a life changing experience and the best thing I have done for the last 20 months. I believe I have influenced countless lives and have made many new friends. I have learned about a new culture and I have taught others about my own. Through trial and error I have gained many new skills and believe I am a better person than I was two years ago. With all of this growth and satisfaction, why do I still feel inadequate? I have joked with other volunteers that service is like putting your life on hold for two-years. While we are sharing our culture in Nicaragua there still remains a boundary that we can never quite cross. We can help a community to the most of our ability, but we still have that plane ticket that will sweep us home after two years. Our service will quickly be filed away as just another blurb on our resume and many people will want us to condense all of our experiences into a 15 second sound bite. I know this and I expect this, but at the same time it is what I want. I love my life here in Nicaragua, I love how it is simplified and all my needs are taken care of. However, there is something disconcerting about this, while there are many flaws regarding life in the US, I miss it and yearn for it. I dream of being back in Boston and spending way too much on a beer or going out to a concert or a play. I want to walk around NYC and gawk at the overdressed and vain strangers. I miss the over competitive atmosphere where no matter what you do, you are always expected to deliver more. While I agree with the mentality that living comes first and taking things slow, I miss the cut-throat atmosphere of always wanting more. In no way do I want to detract from my service as a volunteer, but I feel like I am falling behind the curve. Given, I compare myself too frequently to others, but many of my peers in college are now completing their master’s, MBA’s, or preparing for the bar exam. Getting back to the point of my life on hold, what have I accomplished? Yes… I know have done a lot here as a volunteer, but sadly we can all recognize that this is not measured on the same scale as someone else furthering their education or quickly climbing the career ladder. In reference to the title of this entry, I am starting to think of the end of service. Yet, am I jumping the gun? I do still have 6 more months of service, which is 25% of service left. We are often told that the first few months should be spent observing, thus our most productive months are skewed and rather than wrapping up, I should be more productive than ever. However, I can’t help but feel that I have passed my prime and I am ready to be phased out. I notice I am looking at the calendar with more yearning than ever before and any time I am on the internet I realize I have wandered over to idealist.org or other career websites. This is a time to reflect on my goals and hunker down for the remaining quarter or service. I have more ideas in the pipeline, but it is not nearly as spontaneous as before. Rather than the beginning of my service where I was braced for the long haul, I find that the light at the end of the tunnel is an excuse to expedite my remaining time rather than plant my feet and finish strong.



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.