Quit the day, the American version

The best piece of advice that I ever received in handling the emotional toll of volunteer life was, “Quit the day.” When my fingers were ready to dial my supervisor to announce my early termination, I would remember that I could give up until tomorrow and then locked myself in my house to read or watch that rare movie. I allowed myself to feel the situation’s toughness instead of puffing my shoulders and mustering through, which enabled me to face the next day with renewed sense of confidence and hope.

Today was a tough day and I had a meltdown, to which my dear mother remarked came a lot later after my return than she or the rest of my family expected. The triggers do not seem noteworthy – the bitter cold, an immoveable grocery store, a spelling error. The weight of what to do next and the vagueness of what I’ve become after two years in Lesotho dominated my emotions and I felt defeated before 2 p.m. I wandered through the big box store, about ready to scream at someone, and I knew that I needed to get home.

I was angry at myself for so many reasons: feeling and appearing incompetent in this job search, losing the composure and Zen I worked so hard to acquire, no sense of direction in terms of my future, lack of inspiration and dedication to creative projects that could push me forward. I, naively, assumed that I would walk out of my service with the motivation and courage to take my life to a new level and, now that I am home, I do not see that in my character, which makes me pissed off at myself.

Well, this is really not that different from my time in Lesotho as I have never been one to give myself a break but I want to be that person. In the United States, it seems a lot harder to allow myself mistakes and some slack, but if I don’t I am going to end up in a dark place. Today, I really needed to quit the day, because frankly America was overwhelming me. So I did. I took a nap, I talked to an old friend about love and trying to find whatever it is that we are meant to do and this reminded me that deadlines for my life are arbitrary and set by me so I can also decide not to set them.

What I need to remember is that I am still new to this RPCV life and there are going to be rough days. They won’t break me as long as I accept their difficulty and move on the next day. I did that at a different time and I really think I can do that now, here.





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