Constant Uncomfort

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.

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5 thoughts on “Constant Uncomfort

  1. Heather, you’re seeing more and doing more for more people than most of us could dream of doing back in comfortable home. I can have a DQ blizzard anytime I want, but it makes me fat. Then I’m fat, comfortable, and I lose touch with what it’s like to be a human in this world.
    I don’t envy you…my short time in Latin America caused me to eat a cheeseburger like a ravenous dog in the airport and take obnoxiously long hot showers for awhile. But it also allowed me to understand how awesome my life is any how lucky I am and that I should never act in a way that judges those with less money or les opportunities than I have because I am here by luck alone.
    You have that. You’ll have it very strongly forever. And you earned it. This period of discomfort will pay off for you.
    And don’t worry. You really aren’t missing much back here. 🙂

    • Roxy, you are wonderful. I know that things are good here and I wouldn’t trade this experience for all the DQ blizzards in the world, but somedays I just miss that part of life. Still, I am so happy to be here and am thankful for this experience. Hope you are doing well and I miss you terribly!

  2. Pingback: Count Up | From Anasara to Yovo

  3. Hi Heather!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

    I know it is hard to be away from home, family and friends during holidays and special occasions but you will have many, many more years of celebrating those milestones when you get back. When you leave Lesotho and the novelty of being back home wears off you will surely miss Lesotho and all the friends you left behind. What are the chances you will return to Lesotho? Not as great as the definite of you returning to the States! So please enjoy what you are experiencing now, because when you leave Lesotho the goodbyes will most likely be forever.

    I agree with Roxy, you really are not missing much here in the States! Family, friends, pizza, hot showers, independent travel.. all will be here when you get back in December 2013! Which will be here before you know it!

    I hope you have fun plans for celebrating Christmas & New Years Peace Corps style!

    All my best! And cheers to 2013!

    xo Meredith

    • Hi, Meredith,
      Happy New Year to you! Hope things are going well for you in 2013 and thank you for all of the support over the last year. I do miss home at times and there are challenges but I am so thankful for the experiences I’ve had in Lesotho and, more importantly, the people I’ve met. When I am home eating that pizza and ice cream, I will miss these days. Anyway, hope you and the family are well!

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