It seems as though it came and went in the blink of an eye. 27 months. A roller coaster of emotions; extreme highs and lows of successes and failures. A language learned and a culture deeply appreciated. The sweetest people entering my life, and the profound relationships built on such a simple concept of exchange.
My 24 months serving as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer and three months of training in the beautiful country of Costa Rica have truly been an indescribable life changing experience. Life has been so good, that a couple months ago, I was granted the opportunity to stay with Peace Corps for one more full year! I recently began my third and final year as a Peace Corps Volunteer! I am thankful for this opportunity to continue with the current projects and really map out a strong future of sustainability not only for the village where I have been living, but also for my personal and professional future.
I had been fortunate enough to go home to the states for a month before embarking on my final year with Peace Corps to spend time with family and friends. I had gotten a glimpse into something I had really forgotten – the life as an American in America. It was lavish and luxurious full of options, accessibility and convenience. It was a great time. I smiled and danced – just like before. But the difference is, this time, post 2 years of service, there was something missing, and more so than ever, I could see and feel the different person I have become. It really was a mental (and sometimes physical) struggle of leaving the simple life behind, and pretending to be just like the “others” of my homeland. I have come to see one of the hardest parts of living abroad, is coming home.
Among many, many things, the past two years have taught me the importance of true personal relationships. When you take the water and glitter out of a snow globe, you’re just left with those simple figurines inside. You can shake it up all you want, but there is nothing left to spice it up- no more falling snow or splish splashing glitter. In the past, my relationships with people have been filled with the fluffy stuff – the distractions of fluffy glitter and it easily consumed who I was and made it hard to see whom others were. Now, I long for nothing more than to be one of those lonely figurines in an empty snow globe away from everything that isn’t true. Being without distractions in a community so small and with little resources is a humbling change of pace. Sometimes I feel so bare – without the comforts I’m accustomed to, to quickly throw over me, or the easy available distractions preventing to not think so much about the raw true existences we are.
As I come back, diving into this year headfirst ,and I feel as if coming up for air isn’t as easy as I remember. Tumbling beneath the waves lost in what is up and what is down. I know I won’t drown but I worry about the next crashing wave. Sometimes the insecurities get the best of me – being the only different in a sea of sames. Feeling like my best isn’t good enough. Or going at a mediocre pace when I want to excel. These are normal human feelings, but when they are raw – without those fluffy distractions – they seem 100 times heavier and 100 times more difficult to lift myself out of the mud.
No matter the day, or the feeling, I always try and get out at least once a day, wipe the mud off my feet, even if it’s down the street to my host grandparents house to sit on their porch beneath the rain and cherish the precious moments with people I’ve come to love and have come to love me. Being social in the community is work in the community. My work in the community is my priority; however, development is a tricky subject, especially in a short time span of 2-3 years. Sometimes I feel as though my days and efforts disappear into a black hole. I wonder if the two or even three years will leave a mark with the community on a project of sustainability. When I arrived here, I just wanted to make a difference even if it just be in one persons life, and enjoy the experience while exchanging with another culture, but now, it is truly about seeing a change in the quality of life for these people that have become so close to my heart.
This next year is truly devoted to the little corner of Costa Rica called Colonia Libertad, but also focusing on my growth as a young woman. It’s about solidifying those true relationships, friendships, and family I’ve been so blessed to find here. It’s about learning to be myself away from the false and understanding it, while at the same time breaking down those walls of insecurities and doubts. It’s about being strong enough to enter a world full of illusions but bounce back into a world of pure reality; more so, about finding which world truly is the reality, because there is only one…..