Happy New Year! Wow. I can’t believe it’s already 2017. This time last year I was in a state of transition before leaving the country to serve in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Now, I’m already 10 months in. Incredible to think how fast time has flown by. So much has happened over the last year that I want to take a moment to reflect as I shift into the next chapter of my time abroad. For me, it’s been very important that I acknowledge the gifts and the lessons from 2016 so that I can not only carry forward what has been helpful and insightful, but also let go of what has held me back or distracted me from focusing on myself and my work here.
I took a huge leap this last year. Huge. Anyone who knows me knows that moving abroad in my early 30s was not “part of the plan” that I had envisioned for myself. I thought I would be settled down by now, married with kids in a house in the burbs of D.C. somewhere. But I guess that’s part of the beauty of it all, right? To think outside of the box of what’s possible, shake things up and step outside of my comfort zone. I had reached a plateau, so it felt. So leaving my corporate job, moving to Nicaragua and joining the Peace Corps so that I can truly be of service while also learning another language was that next step.
Looking back now, my Peace Corps experience has been full of many ups and downs. They don’t lie when they tell you that in the Peace Corps the highs are high and the lows are low. Once I got through the honeymoon phase of being a Peace Corps volunteer, I had to work hard to let go of parts of my old life. Living in NYC for the last decade was incredible, but I quickly realized that while that chapter was amazing in so many ways, I needed to truly embrace my experience here. I was holding on to certain things that I needed to let go. It’s been hard, I’m not going to lie. There’s so much about it all that I still miss, but I’ve grown to appreciate the simple, beautiful moments that I’ve encountered here. And that’s what I’ve had to focus on — the present moment that’s in front of me right now. Not the past, nor the future, but the here and now because that’s all that I truly have.
So what have been the gifts this year? Well, I can now say that I’m comfortable living abroad in another country. My Spanish is improving, and while sometimes I feel like it’s getting worse, I know that being immersed in the life here has drastically improved my fluency. I’m also comfortable being on my own and have accepted that while my journey may look different from many of my friends, I’m exactly where I need to be.
Going into this year, I want to let go of my fear of the uncertainty that I find myself carrying. I always want to have it all figured out and that’s just not how life works. Also, the perfectionist — she’s gotta go. She served me well in the past, but I’ve quickly realized that perfectionism has not been my best friend here. Doing my very best and showing up is all that I can do, and that’s enough.
I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2017. I hope to continue to serve my country to the best of my ability while growing and expanding my life experiences. I’m on the journey of a lifetime so I plan to soak up every moment that I can because I know it will all be over before I know it.