The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Year Two Adjustments

I have felt a dip in workload lately.  This oftentimes coincides with the closing of the schools.  So many of us work in schools in some aspect or another, so the holidays bring a slowdown of projects.  Being six months away from close of service is a strange time.  We are still involved with projects in a real way, ideally beginning to see what our counterparts can continue without us.  We want to continue to grow our work within the community, but starting a new long-term project now seems foolish.  We are probably as comfortable as we will ever be in our villages.  We are thinking about plans after Peace Corps, but still have six months staring us in the face.

I have sensed a change in myself these past few months.  There are still difficult moments, ones in which I want to shut myself up in my house with a glass of wine in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other.  But the difficulties don't have so much to do with the fact that I am a Peace Corps volunteer. They have to do with the fact that I am human.  If I were living anywhere else, those moments would still happen.

It is interesting to talk with volunteers who have been in service less time than I have.  It reminds me of my past phases of adjustment.  One volunteer wrote an article in our monthly newsletter about becoming unhappy as the doubts of Peace Corps service grab hold.  She was telling us not to give up on personal development, reminding us how to be responsible for finding the joy again.  The basic gist was that we can choose to be happy.  It made me smile because I realized that I no longer think about my service in that way.  I am just content.  I do not need to search for things to make me feel this way.  There was a time when Peace Corps service felt like something to have to "get through."  But I do not feel that way about the next 6 months.  I am not counting down.  I don't look at my time in Shoshong as  "service" anymore.  I am living in Botswana.  It is not something insular, different from my other experiences in my life.  It just IS my life.

A large part of the unique frustrations of Peace Corps service is the constant feeling of failure----or if not failure, then at least questioning whether or not you are making any kind of difference.  Wondering about actual legacy and impact is a big topic, for another post for sure.  But part of becoming content is realizing that I absolutely have succeeded in making a difference.  The key is in redefining success.  The best definition I have ever seen was hanging in the computer lab of Shoshong Junior Secondary School:

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

Reminds me of golf.  Every shot is a new chance.  Every shot has the potential to be amazing.  And if anything, that has been my success...that regardless of how many projects never started or how many people said they would work with me and never followed through, I have continued to be enthusiastic if someone wants to start a project with me.  I have not been discouraged because of failure.  It's not really determination or perseverance, but rather a pleasant acceptance of the way things are.


  1. I love your quote. I just put it up on the board on our refrigerator and be inspired by it. You are amazing and I love you very much. Mama

  2. I just googled your quote and it turns out that is a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Very powerful!

  3. That is very cool, mom! I had no idea it was Abraham Lincoln but that makes it even better!