I am shy eight months from completing my Peace Corps service. This is causing an overwhelming amount of emotions. Some emotions I feel are positive such as the accomplishment of tackling a second language, living in a community who’s water runs for a mere 4 hours out of a 24 hour day, and my ability to capture an audience in order to portray the message in an exciting way. Unfortunately, these positive emotions are frequently overtaken by a variety of negative factors causing me to feel stressed which affects my being.
At this point in my service, I am analyzing the work I have completed in the past 19 months and I am planning the eight that remain. Yet, it is no longer my Peace Corps service that is causing me the most stress. It is my life after.
What am I going to do after Peace Corps?
This is a common question amongst volunteers on the down sloop of their service. I am being haunted by this question every day. I bombarded myself with questions like; should I go right to grad school? If so, where? What should I study if I do decide to go back to school? I should probably start studying for the GRE’s if this is my decision. When should I take the exam? Do I want to try to find a job right away? What type of job am I looking for? Where do I want to live? Should I travel? Will I adjust to the culture well when I move back to the states? AND MANY MORE….I am the only person who can answer these questions and that is terrifying!
Since age 5, I have been in school. I studied, wrote papers, and solved math problems until I graduated with my bachelors at the age of 22. I have studied the majority of my life. And now, more than two years after graduation I am living in a place where essays are not written and math has been forgotten. My daily goals are trying to stay hydrated, fight off parasites and beat the heat! My pace of life has slowed tremendously and I have formed a new view on what is important in my life. I am not sure I am ready to take on the work of Graduate School, nor work a full time job. But is it like riding a bike? Will it all come back to me?
These thoughts consume my day, as they do for many other volunteers. We have been removed from American “reality” and we must make decisions about our future while in the midst of the biggest cultural experience of our lives.
For the next eight months, I will probably change my mind one million times. Life doesn’t get easier with every decision I make, it gets even more complicated.
I ‘m a Peace Corps Volunteer and I’m STRESSED OUT!