I hated my last year abroad. Until I realized I had to fall in love again. With myself.
I have decided to live in Africa and I regretted that decision immediately. Mostly because how unprepared you can be in this state. After my service, I was incredibly lucky.
I got a job immediately. With incredible pay and experience. I had no interest in returning back to America. I just watched the wrong person become President and it only cemented my dreams of living aboard. I have incredible international friends that would last over distances compared to friends in the US who became preoccupied with life.
I wasn’t angry at them. Africa didn’t excite them and WiFi/Netflix filled their lives. I was nothing but cool for the moment. A likable Facebook post that you pass on your feed.
I didn’t mind. I wanted to live in a foreign country. I wanted my children to have citizenship in an another country. I wanted to find someone who enjoyed the life I had made for myself. To meet me in my path and join their path with mine. I was living my dream.
I learned many things in my last year here. I forgot the village and my dog so easily. I wanted to continue work in nonprofit and public service work. I still wanted to write and produce novels that spoke of the era I lived in. I was on my way.
I learned that many things you plan for, don’t happen. I think of this of my senior year. I did not accomplish much. But it was okay I didn’t because I knew that this was leading towards my future. I wanted to continue living and doing whatever I wanted. How many times do I have to repeat that I was independent?
How many times do I have to tell myself that this last year was worth it? I will remake the money I have lost. I will grow in a person continuously.
Traveling alone is the most frightening part of this journey. Figuring everything out with your own American perspective without anyone else to talk to is frightening. Incredibly frightening. I am scared every day. I am so scared when RPCV’s judge my choices. Current PCVs are so proud of me. But they don’t understand this struggle. So much of the international world cannot be experienced without money. And outside of Peace Corps, you have to work a nine to five job with less than two weeks of personal days for vacation. Life sucks after Peace Corps.
It sucked for a year. Loneliness was the largest burden. I had to constantly remind myself that I was okay. I am okay. You are okay. I will be okay. But I wasn’t.
I became sad. Depression kicked in quickly. Management at my new place sucked out any creative and happy energy. I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to write again but I lost my voice.
I became a survivor. Survive this last year. Survive this last year. Run back to you mother and let her keep you in her strong arms and regroup. Regroup then. Regroup then. Survive. Survive. Survive with a smile.
I lost friends again. It was frightening again. It is the universe, I kept thinking, saying I deserved loneliness. Friends walked in and out. I still survived. I lived in an incredible place and wanted nothing. I had food and a roof. I was warm. I was comfortable.
But I was only surviving. Depression was my nighttime, unhappiness was my morning ritual, and loneliness was my daily friend.
I couldn’t cry anymore and I couldn’t express my feelings. The writing was lost to me. It was the hardest heartbreak to ever happen in my life. I lost the love of my life.
Now you may be wondering why I am writing now. I had to fall back in love with the most important and incredible thing to happen to me. When I learned to write and write passionately, I also dreamed. Dreamed in scenes. Epics and tragedies occurred all in one night. In great detail, I would remember everything and would inspire me to write more. My dreams were filled with worlds and my hands were desperate. Desperate to write words and type them. Otherwise, my mind would explode with voices unheard.
I fell back in love. I am still depressed, trust me. That shit doesn’t go away. But I had to fall to rock bottom. The first thing I lost was trust. I no longer trust anyone. Emotions were investments and I no longer gave it away for free. I cannot call myself a giver when I expected a return. I thought daily that I deserved trust and love. I realized I may be alone forever. I had to be okay with that.
I am still not okay with it.
I had to fall to the bottom and rise back again.
A phoenix. Except there was no Dumbledore waking me up from the fragile ugly chick I am. I was burning first.
I am still slowly fall in love. I do not know this beautiful thing anymore. She has changed. So have I. But I know she is magical. And I want to deserve her again. To write is my life.
But I am still trying to survive and not live. It will take time before I am back. Or maybe fully understand who I am now. Who she is now.