As the holiday near and I continue to feel the lows of the one-year mark, I’ve been trying to pinpoint why the days can be so hard.
Life at home seems so romantic and easy and I occasionally think about what is there that I can’t have here.
The other day, I wanted to watch a movie, but I couldn’t because I had a phone and iPod to charge and not enough computer battery to do both. I also haven’t been able to watch any of my favorite TV shows in more than a year and the Internet on my phone doesn’t work more than it works. Are movies, TV and reliable Internet the reason I miss home so much?
Since coming to Lesotho, I’ve been reading a lot about plant-based diets and really want to be healthier. However, fruits and vegetables are expensive for my modest living allowance and heavy to carry on my 40-minute walk. I can occasionally get tomatoes, onions and cabbage in my village, but usually have to rely on carbs and proteins like lentils and beans to make up my meals (Sadly, a garden is just not something I will accomplish during my service for various reasons). At night, when reading magazine my mom sent, I dream of delivery pizza and DQ Blizzards. Is food the reason I miss home so much?
When I scroll Twitter and Facebook, I see posts about people living out their passions and working jobs that empower them. I remember feeling that way and long for a satisfying career after Peace Corps (not to say this isn’t satisfying, just in a different way). I want to be good at my job again. I want to go to meetings and answer emails and feel productive at the end of the day. Is a stable job the reason I miss home so much?
Traveling in Lesotho makes me anxious. There is a long walk and the crowded, nosy taxis. A weekend at a friend’s can be exhausting with all the travel and I miss hoping in my car with some “This American Life” and arriving at my destination without much hassle.
If I went home tomorrow I would have all of these things. Instantly, I would have all the pizza and ice cream I wanted and could watch anything my little heart desired. I would begin looking for a job and could get anywhere I needed to in a jiffy. I could take a nice hot shower, buy new clothes and get a nice haircut. I would no longer be an objection and people would always, or most of the time, understand me. I would easily settle back into my American self.
Soon after, I suspect, I would long for Africa and its simplicities.
But going home is not what I want. I deeply miss my friends and family and it bothers me sometimes to be that girl in Africa missing out on everything. However, they are extremely supportive and we both know that being here is the best thing for me. It really is.
All of that other stuff can sometimes pile up and it feels daunting. My life in Lesotho is a good one, but it is not comfortable. I am perpetually living outside of my comfort zone – whether it comes to coping mechanisms, my work or day-to-day village life – and it is exhausting.
Slowly, I am settling into that discomfort and finding a home there. I came to Africa because I was afraid of living in comfortable forever and I didn’t see good things happening for me if I did. So now I am on the outside and it is hard, way more so than missing media, food and easy transport. I am constantly looking in inside myself to endure a situation I don’t really want to be
Living uncomfortably is what I need to grow and become that person I know I can be. It is what I need for the life beyond Peace Corps, wherever and whatever it is. It is not easy, but some day I will look back on this experience and understand the wisdom and courage I gained from constant discomfort.