Guide me

All I knew is that I wanted to be in Africa and that is all I needed to know. I put entire faith into an agency and I was too naïve to believe that wasn’t a good idea. Where they told me to go is where I was meant to go.

And so I went, to two different African countries that most people in the United States have never heard of nor can pronounce properly. They both stand towards the top of the world’s poorest countries and they have little to offer those with full pockets and itchy passports. They are small dots (figuratively, not literally) on the map but I went to them for a reason. I found a piece of myself that couldn’t have been exposed anywhere else.

During my final months in Lesotho, people – at home and in Africa – asked me what I would do next and where I would go. As an unconditional cheerleader for South Dakota, most expected that is where I would go but my sites were broader. In a pact between God and myself, I told Him I wouldn’t worry about the job search until I was home and that I would leave the choice up to the Universe. Whatever I needed to do that would be revealed to me.

I guess I expected the Universe to speak quicker and bolder. I assumed I would apply for different kinds of jobs all over the country and the one that stuck would be the exact dot my journey that I needed to go next. It’s kind of my method for buying clothes, gifts, anything more than $5 – I will know what I am looking for when I see it.

But the “real world” tells me it doesn’t work that way. That I must pick a place and an industry and connect with people who can get me through the door. It’s not something up to chance, but real, real hard work. I thought that not having a plan would lessen limits and that red line on the map would present itsself clearly, more so than ever before.

Now I wonder if that line even exists. I can’t tell what I want to do or were I want to go because every possibility is soaked in fear. Each day I fight between what I should do and what I can do, living up to my potential and being happy. I wish all of those could come together at one point, but life is not that neat.

An old friend reminded me of a chat we had in Brookings many years ago when I told him about my aspirations for the Peace Corps. A sweet man, he probably thought I was crazy and living off the fumes of an impossible dream. Maybe I, too, felt that I would never actually leave my job and suitable life behind for places I couldn’t have pointed out on a map.

Yet, I did. Like now, I walked through my days in a zombie mask wondering if I would find the light and passion in me. I didn’t know what I wanted then, and it sure wasn’t living in buckets and working a job that was impossible to succeed in.

I need to remind myself of those moments because I was once lost and directionless but I came out OK and I will again. And for me to actually be OK and I need to believe it.

7 thoughts on “Guide me

  1. Hi, Heather. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough time… I’ve been there. I think the transition back to America is harder than we expect because the first couple weeks are so incredible. I, too, felt lost, because I expected something to jump out at me, to become clear, to scream, “THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NEXT!!!” This may not help right now, but know that the bad feelings will pass, and eventually you’ll find the light and passion in yourself. (Many of my fellow PCVs have had the exact same slump, post-Peace Corps.) I’ve been back from Armenia for almost 6 months, and it was only about last week that I realized I’m truly happy and content. It was a rough road getting there, but now I’m here. And let me tell you, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. Hang in there. I’m rooting for you!

    • Oh, Evelyn, thank you so much for the note of encouragement. I really appreciate it and you remind me that I just need to have patience. This is a part of the process and I need to understand and respect that. Thank you for everything and I am so glad that you are doing well!

  2. Keep checking your possibilities and options. cast your net and what returns will fit you. it will take time. and it might be frustrating. but focus on the positives and stick with your values. these challenging times help clear the chaff – you learn who your true friends are and who you are. you’ve done it before. you can do this.

    i left my last job of six years four months ago. i put my heart, time & energy into building something i was proud of and wanted to take further, but i encountered barriers to my own growth. the path i’ve taken is not what i was expecting or planning when i messily exited my last job.

    keep pointing yourself in the right direction. that direction that feels like YOU. you’ll make it. i have to tell myself this, too. and i have to remember, enjoy the journey.

    my best to you 🙂

    • Jessica, this is such an uplifting message. Thank you so much for the note and the reminder. I hope that your new journey is everything you need it to be and I will make sure to just enjoy the journey and wherever it takes me.

    • You are so right, Crystal. I should go after what I love. And I could use another adventure, if you are up for it 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope you are doing well!

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