Accepting who I am and who I am not

I am likely not the first person who went into the Peace Corps hoping the experience would change them.

Two years away from all that is normal and comfortable was my ticket to self-discovery. This was my shot to finally become the person that I knew I could be, the person that I knew existed somewhere deep inside. I made a list of personal goals that would help me embody that version of myself.

As a younger person, I believed that I could do it all, be it all, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to accept what I am and what I am not.

Although I had nice intentions, I never did pick up knitting or crocheting. I had all the necessary supplies and even made good effort on a (lopsided) scarf. It’s an admirable hobby but it’s not one in my repertoire.

I also never planted the garden that I had dreamt about through both Niger and Lesotho PSTs. I never sampled my own tomatoes or lettuce, freshly grown from African soil and my hard work. Although this may be one of the greatest regrets of my service, I am OK with it and maybe I will find my green thumb at another point in life.

What I did was run. I ran early mornings and late afternoons. I ran to escape and I ran to fulfill a dream. At no other point in my life, with maybe the exception of cross country season in high school, have I kept such a consistent running routine. I want to run until I can’t. I want to run marathons and 100-milers. I want to explore cities and mountainsides through running. Lesotho renewed my passion for running that always seemed to be convoluted with the busyness of American life.

I also wrote a lot. Whether in my journal, for my hometown newspaper, for the country newsletter or this blog, I wrote nearly every day and, most often, multiple times a day. My writing is still full of errors (I’ve impressed many editors but none have complimented me on my clean copy) but the content is richer. Thanks to this, my experience is recorded, allowing me to recall it at any future point in my life.

One new habit I picked up is reading. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it was never a high priority for me. Not a day goes by in Lesotho that I don’t read. I’ve devoured classics, best sellers, memoirs, pieces written by friends, lengthy investigative magazine pieces. I used to fall asleep with the TV or my computer, now I need a book for slumber.

As I prepare to go home, I am still trying to figure how who I am and who I’ve changed. Am I now the person I am supposed to be? I don’t know and I am not sure I’ll ever have an answer to that. Leading up to my departure, and likely after I return, I will continue to use this blog to examine how I’ve changed and the person I’ve become.

What I do know now is the things that I’ve always loved – writing and running – grew stronger and I’ve come to gracefully accept that certain things are not for me. I am not that perfect version but I am me, and I slowly realizing that is enough.

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