It’s OK not to be tough

Peace Corps Volunteers have this sense of toughness.

We are tough. We are doing something so many people talk about but never follow through for whatever reason. We give up so much to do this job – running water, being present for the big and little moments in our friends and family’s lives, the convenience of running down the street for a cup of your favorite when you need a pick me up. We are dirty, patient, flexible and unfazed. We are tough.

Sometimes, toughness is merely an act. We act strong because we are supposed to, because that is the stereotype that has been presented for us to fill.

Occasionally, we are not. Me included. Sometimes I want to cry because I broke my favorite mug or the same kid keeps asking me for sweets, even though I’ve told him every day I do not have them. I want to find a hole and hide when the taxi I am on stops every eight seconds and I am stuffed between two large women. I am downright sad because I am sick of the same food day in and day out and the wind will not let up, making any future runs likely miserable. Sometimes, I indulge in the fantasy of going home, eating at several different restaurants in one day and drinking all the craft beer I can. Going to concerts with my friends and shopping for frivolous items. Watching TV with my mom and sleeping in my own bed. Then, waking up and doing it again.

That is not what tough people do.

But it is what humans, real people, do.

I am not perfect and one of the days I will stop striving to be. I can indulge in my vulnerabilities and accept them as me.

I am a tough person, but not always. I am doing something really amazing, but, you know what, it is hard. Really hard. That is OK to admit. Some days I miss home and wonder about a different life. In general, I am happy here and content with my work, but it’s acceptable to not love every minute of this adventure.

It’s great to be a tough Peace Corps Volunteer, but I have my weak moments where I fall out of that stereotype. And I have to tell myself that that is OK. Human, even.


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