Please note that the opinions reflected on this blog are solely MY opinion. They do not reflect the Peace Corps or the US Government in any way.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Stand by Me

Before Senegal, I wasn’t someone who kept up with a continuous blog. I didn’t feel like my daily life experiences would be that interesting to an outsider. I still feel that way with most of the blogs I take a random glance at here and there. I started this blog as a way to stay close with my family and friends while I was living in Senegal – I didn’t know how therapeutic it would turn out to be for me during those two years. I have always kept a personal diary but there’s something about posting your thoughts in a public forum that is alluring. I hadn’t intended on keeping up with this blog much post-Senegal. I have written one post since I came home and hadn’t really felt much need for a follow-up. Tonight I felt the need.

My coming home has been a whirlwind. There have been the usual readjustments that any returned Peace Corps volunteer faces such as food issues, supermarket breakdowns (there are SO many options here), and an overall feeling of gluttony (almost disgust) for all that we have here. Then, for me, there have been some deeper readjustments around family, friends, getting used to being in an office 40+ hours a week (yeah, I got a job), anxiety around making purchases (ANY purchase, literally), and even dating (everything’s online nowadays – it’s weird and makes me uncomfortable and slightly ashamed of my generation).

I have been home for over 5 months now and it still feels like I’m in a cloud some days. I have supportive people in my life but I don’t feel like I have really been given the proper venue to truly share my Peace Corps experience. Until tonight. I volunteered as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters for… 6 years or so. I was matched with a wonderful young woman and became very close to her and her family. They had me over for dinner tonight because they wanted to hear about my Peace Corps experience. They wanted to see pictures and I mean a lot of pictures. I tend to get a little embarrassed if I’m showing people pictures from Senegal and try to stop before I’ve even really began – they were not having that. They wanted to hear Senegalese music. They wanted to relish in my achievements and listen sympathetically to my challenges. Not many other people (there have certainly been some who have) in the 5 months that I’ve been home, have given that kind of attention to what Peace Corps meant to me.  

I’m expected by many to just slide right back into life here. I probably put on the fa├žade myself by getting a car, accepting a job right away, jumping into dating, and seamlessly falling into my life as it was before. But I’m not as I was before. And sometimes I don’t know what I’m ever going to be. I still don’t know what my career path should be. I still don’t know where I belong. I feel like, at the age of 25, I’m redefining myself and my path in life. Peace Corps had been my goal for so many years and now that I’ve completed it – I need to build up my list once again or I need to just be okay with not knowing.

When I used to write these posts I would often think about the reason behind them. What am I trying to get across, what is my end goal? With this post, I think I simply needed to write. I needed to share that I’m still struggling, yes, even 5 months after being home. I needed to share with those close to me that sometimes, I just need to talk about Senegal. Sometimes I need to show a picture of my host sister and all anyone needs to do is give me an indulgent giggle or two. If there are other returned volunteers out there who didn’t jump back into “normal” life as easily as it seems like your fellow returned friends did, that’s okay.

I needed to share that I am trying to slide back into life here. But sometimes, I will have to compare prices of body wash for 7 minutes (which, in reality, is abnormally long for such a task) and you may just have to stand there with me and let it happen. I also wanted to share that I am incredibly grateful for those of you who have stood by me in that body wash aisle, metaphorically speaking. You know who you are.