So Jess and I have some big news, and I mean ‘Rhinoceros big’. We have decided to end our service with Peace Corps and come home. I know that this news probably comes as a shock to most of you and so I wanted to write this post to shed some light on this decision and how we came to make it.
As those of you who have been actively been keeping up with this blog have probably noticed, Jess has written 90% of the posts. It is true that Jess enjoys the process of blogging more than myself, but this has mostly been a practical application of the rule, “If you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all.” That is not to say that I have nothing good to say about this country or our time here, rather, for a long time now I have been unhappy and have not felt motivated to write much.
I have felt for a long time now that I have been simply “spinning my wheels”. So much changed over the three years we applied that I didn’t even see till I was here for awhile. For the first time in a long time I had been excited about the future and motivated to begin it. This, I thought, was simply the first step. After this, culinary school and then the world! I have been looking for a project to get interested in and sink my teeth into ever since. I have been helping Jess in the meantime here and there but for the most part I have had little to do here.
Coupled with having little to do here is the fact that there is nothing to do here. In our after work hours, our activities are limited to household chores and movies on the computer. There is some socializing with other volunteers on the weekends, and occasionally we get to travel (and traveling in this country has been amazing), but for the most part we sit.
I became frustrated, to say the least, and Jess and I spent more and more time discussing ways that I could find some amount of meaning and purpose here. Over time we began to discuss the difference between simply making it through and enjoying our time here. In the end we both realized that for me it would never be the latter. I had started exhibiting symptoms that indicated that my unhappiness and anger were beginning to border on something worse.
It needs to be said here that my wife is the most amazing person I have ever known. If she were here on her own, she would have easily finished her service and contributed remarkably to our organization. She is exceptionally good at what she does. She has also been amazingly supportive. I on the other hand have been a pain in the ass at the best of times and unbearable at the worst. She has stood by me and offered her support through it all.
The discussion of what is best for us in terms of our future with Peace Corps had been ongoing for the last several months. We discussed all sorts of options ranging from me just sucking it up and finishing, to me returning and her finishing, to our leaving together. In the end we decided that the best thing for us was to come home together.
Over the last several months I have received a great deal of support from a few other PCV’s in helping me to find some meaning here and yet were always adamant that I needed to do what was best for me. To those PCV’s, and I hope you know who you were, thank you.
As we reached our decision and since there have been several things, both large and small, that have seemed serendipitous. There were random occurrences that seemed to be telling us we needed to be going home, and there have been many things that seem to be telling us that we made the right decision. It was after we had made our decision and told our supervisor that we found out that there was someone who wanted to take over Jess’ big project. Also, the RPCV who had our site previously is back for a few months to help out and has taken over our house, which used to be hers.
Most importantly, we are coming home to both our sisters having babies, and we are both excited to meet our new nieces/nephew. And, with Jess’s sister getting married, Jess is looking forward to being around to help plan and dress shop. Both Jess and I believe that we are making the right decision and are excited for our future. We don’t see this as a failed attempt, rather as our first big adventure together, of which we plan on having many more.
In fact, we plan on moving from this adventure to another. We are planning to move to Portland, OR sometime this year. I have found a culinary program that I could not be more excited about and Jess is actively looking to start her career there. And then from there, who knows?
If I had the chance to go back four years ago knowing then what I know now and I had to decide whether or not to submit my application to Peace Corps again, I would do so without hesitation. Through this entire adventure I have learned two important lessons that I will take with me: First, if you want something badly enough, are realistic about what it takes to achieve it, and are willing to put in the time and energy, than anything is possible. And second, life is not worth it if you aren’t happy.
To all who read our blog, thank you for sharing in our adventure. Good-bye to South Africa, a beautiful country that I have loved exploring (I don’t think we are done exploring this country or this continent yet). And, hello again to all of our family, friends, and loved ones back home.