When Stephanie passed away in Niger, Peace Corps sent a few headquarter personnel, including a counselor, to help us make sense of our fallen fellow volunteer. I attended a group session and then a one-on-one with the sweet woman whose name I can no longer remember. Not only was I dealing with the death of a dear friend, I was coming off a very emotional year at home and now adjusting to life in the Sahara. As we worked through my emotions, the counselor told me something another volunteer had used on her bad days.
“Some days,” she said, “it is OK to quit the day.”
Today was an awful day at school. As these things usually go, I am not actually sure what started it but I left the classroom in rage and on the verge of tears. I tried to retell what happened but it didn’t make sense. I handle the situation pretty poorly and the blame was unfairly pushed onto someone else. Still, my feelings were normal and I have to accept that there are forces at work that I don’t, and will never, understand.
Emotionally drained, I couldn’t go to my next class. I spoke with the principal, another teacher and the pastor then sent messages to other PCVs. They all reassured me, even the students who caused such harsh reaction, that I am not at the center of this issue.
Yet, I can’t go on. I have reports to fill out, lessons to plan and emails to respond to, but after my next class, a literature session, I am going to go home. I am going to read something mindless and make a bowl of popcorn. I may take a nap and will likely clean and then do yoga. I am going to quit the day.
In America, you can’t just walk away from your job on a hard day. I get that and, thanks to my Catholic guilt, I do feel bad about leaving. But I will have finished classes for the day and I just need to step back. I need to take a deep breath so that I can go onto tomorrow. I won’t always be able to quit the day but on the days that I can, like this one, I must. It’s the best decision for those I serve and for myself.