“It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”
Deciding to do something like move to the other side of the world is a big deal. I would argue that moving away from anywhere you call home is daunting for the majority of people. While preparing to begin my service with the Peace Corps, I’ve probably been feeling the widest spectrum of emotions I’ve ever felt about any single situation. Excited, anxious, connected, disconnected, proud, optimistic, and… you guessed it: scared. Sometimes I feel like a living, breathing “feelings” chart from my childhood.
And I think that’s okay.
My hometown, Bellingham, is a small town in the very NW corner of Washington State. My parents are divorced but I never had to travel more than 10 minutes to get between houses. I went to college in my hometown and opted out of the dorms my Freshman year to live with my best friend since sixth grade in a house just a couple blocks from the university. After graduation, I got a job in Seattle and have been there ever since. So I’ve always been close to home. Not only that, but I’ve never lived more than 90 miles away from my hometown (that’s really close to home). Moving away from the PNW was something I never thought I would do until I set my sights on the Peace Corps. I’ve stuck around because that’s what’s comfortable. Of course, I’ve had moments when I/ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone (or got pushed), but the majority of my life has been spent in my little northwest “bubble”.
I have traveled, though. In fact, traveling has played a big role in my life but I’ve always been with friends, family, or colleagues – never alone. I never took that post-college backpacking trip that a lot of my friends did. But I have a feeling my traveling experiences will pale in comparison to this next adventure.
When in Namibia, I expect to be challenged at times, feel frustrated, lonely, and probably scared too.
And I think that’s okay.
It’s not just a new home, but a new job, culture, language, family, friends, and much more. It’s a complete lifestyle adjustment. And it’s also leaving a lot of really important things (read: people) behind.
But I also expect to feel a sense of fulfillment, purpose, pride and community. Not in the cliche, “Peace Corps totally changed my life” way. But rather in the way in feels to connect with people you never thought you’d have a chance to, in a place you never thought you’d be. It’s enriching.
I know that through this process I’ll have a strong support group of friends, fellow volunteers, host parents and community members – many of whom I have yet to meet. And that’s comforting. I’ve also gotten serious peace of mind by connecting with past and current PCVs on social media and (creepily) looking at their blogs and photos.
27 months seems like a long time, but it’s relatively short in the grand scheme of things. It’s been 28 months since I found out I got the job in Seattle and nervously drove down to go apartment hunting on my own. I was really scared then, and look how that turned out? Time flies.
So, to anyone who’s in the same boat as me, I just want to let you know that it’s okay to be scared. It’s possible to be scared and ready at the same time. Life is just a big leap of faith, anyways.