Since July, I’ve had many, many conversations with people about joining the Peace Corps. As a waitress on Nantucket, patrons were always asking me about my life and were surprised to find out that I’ve committed to two years of service. Although a lot of the people I’ve chatted with have been encouraging, I’ve definitely received some less supportive responses:
“Just hope they don’t send you to Africa!”
“Hmm”.. (attempting to muster any amount of enthusiasm) “That’s nice…”
“Wow. Your mother must be a wreck.”
“What about Ebola?”
“My god! Your college has brainwashed you!”
Okay, so the last one was my grandmother, who has lived in Massachusetts her whole life and who pretty much blurts out anything these days. She also claims that when I move to Malawi, I’ll “lose my beauty,” (whatever that means). Anyway, the most common response is usually related to the fact that I’ll be there for OVER TWO YEARS. People can’t get over that. Which has been making me think, am I crazy? Is there something that I’ve overlooked? Is this a case of self-deception in which I’ve rationalized living in Africa for two years while minimizing the downsides?
No. (I don’t think so). I acknowledge that my 27 months will be very, very challenging at times. However, I am SO excited for the challenge. I cannot wait to live in completely different culture, grow personally, give back, and of course, have an excuse not to shower frequently- one of my least favorite activities. But seriously, I’ve decided that the people who respond with negativity are just different from me. I enjoy “roughing it,” eating weird food, living in a hot climate, and getting lost. I am excited to be unplugged and to live a simpler life. While I understand that there are downsides to joining the Peace Corps, (mainly the separation from my friends and family), I know I’ve made the right decision. The truth is, two years is a very short time in the greater scheme of things. Nine weeks to go!