Exactly one year ago today, I was packing my bags and full of excitement, joy, hope and fear, all at once. I was building myself strong with love and support from friends and family, so that I would be able to endure the most endeavoring challenges. I had made a commitment to Peace Corps; I had also made a commitment to Sandra, with a ring on my finger, to Madame Parks, with a red hand-knit “courage” scrunchie in my hair, to Isiak, packing Boo bunnies that would never leave my pillows, that would remind me to pray every night… and to Richie, with jade around my kneck… “This is your life saver. It will keep you safe” he told me.
I was preparing myself for 38 new best friends. Who would know, three of them would leave in the first week, and many more after that… and Angel would become for me someone that I both get angry and inspired with, and others and I would be lingering in unclarity as to who we are and what we do for each other exactly. And friendship is an amazing thing. Friendship forgives pain and suffering and allows you to grow and change in a completely honest way- and always with the support of strong hands to catch me when I fall.
I have learned that I need to live less in the present and more in the future. I have learned that I am not as confident as I have believed myself to be, but that doing what feels right usually gets me to the right place. I have learned that loneliness and desperation can make you very weak, and that your altered surroundings can sometimes make you forget who you really are. I have learned that completely different situations can give you significant perspective on who you are, and that what you take away from it may not mean much at the moment, but at some point in the future you can look back and smile, proud that you went through it. I have learned that I am emotionally very strong. I have lived out in my heart the advice I was given one year ago: “the right thing and the harder thing are the same thing.”