Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Courage It Takes

I've been home for a few months now and I finally have the words I want to say about my decision to quit.

Everyone said I was courageous when I left. But to me, going wasn't the hard part. I knew I was always going to join the Peace Corps, I did everything throughout my life to get me there. I know it takes guts to drop everything and move to a developing country where you know no one, barely know the language, and have no idea what the culture will be like. That didn't scare me for a second though, what really took courage and guts for me was making the last call.

People really underestimate how terrifying and hard the decision can be to go back on everything you thought you hoped for. I don't plan. I don't know where I'll be next week, or next month, or next year. But I had this one to Peace Corps to a government job. Do you know how much fear and upset it can cause to suddenly not have that plan? To come home without a job, without an idea of what you want you do to or where you want be? The courage it takes to finally speak up after 7 months and say "no more" or to admit that the one dream I had turned into a huge disappointment and admit that I felt betrayed and abandoned by the people who were supposed to have my back.

The final call I made was beyond tearful. It's not that I wanted to leave, it's that I lost myself. I saw myself becoming so bitter, distrustful, paranoid, and hopeless. It takes courage to say "no matter what anyone says I can't do this to myself anymore." And I was nervous, I felt like I was letting myself and my family down. I felt like I was becoming the disappointment instead of someone people were proud of.

The past few months have been an emotional roller coaster and sometimes absolutely terrifying. I can't say I don't miss Africa, and that's why it took everything from me to decide to leave. I can't say I was happy to come home disappointed in myself and feeling like a disgrace. I can't say I was comforted by an unknown future. Everything about leaving my post in Mozambique was terrifying and to that wasn't helped by the fear of the stigma of a volunteer leaving early. We all have our own reasons for why we can't stay where we are. Like any other job, we all have our reasons for moving on.

It didn't take courage for me to go honestly, it took every ounce of courage I could muster to say goodbye to life I had made myself and get on that plane in Maputo and come back. I admire volunteers who have the strength to say "I can't take this anymore" and return rather than fight through the unhappiness they are facing.

All of that said. It feels great to slowly be returning to my old self. Since starting work at American Eagle again I have found myself becoming more outgoing again after 2 years of shying away from people and not trusting those around me. I'm laughing again like I barely did while I was overseas. I'm enjoying going out and doing things after so long of avoiding leaving my house. Because of all of that I can tell that it was worth all of the fear and pain involved in deciding to come home because I'm returning to Jessie.

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