Sometimes it’s hard to process this whole Peace Corps experience. Living in a completely different culture, away from all of your family and friends, in a new community, trying to make new friends, and teaching children that English is not their native language gives you a lot of ups and downs and a lot of areas to learn and grow. I spend a lot of my “me time” and my “self-care” on reflection, which honestly has been really good for me. It has also been good for me to be able to answer the many questions I get from people back home. One of the questions I get the most is, “How have you changed since joining the Peace Corps?” Well first, I am not a huge fan of this question. I mean what if I haven’t changed? Okay, okay, it is very unlikely to not change in this process but you never know. Anyway, since I got this question so much I started to think about it. How have I changed? I honestly, realized right away that the answer was I am way more confident in so many things.
I have been thinking about why, this experience has given me more confidence. I am not exactly known for my confidence, I am actually known for my insecurities and my intense lack of confidence. In some ways my confidence has come from my weight loss, and someone finally getting me to look at myself and see that I am beautiful, (to that or should I say to whom I will be forever grateful). However, it is so much more than just that also. I mean I am living alone for the first time in a foreign country a place I have had to make new friends, learn a new language (that I am guilty of not using very often), and begin teaching in a classroom for the very first time. I am independent and in this situation it is easy to gain confidence in yourself and abilities. I never thought I would be able to live alone in a foreign country. I mean I can travel solo to pretty much anywhere in the country and feel confident and know that I’d be able to make it there in one piece. When I first moved to Uganda I was terrified of traveling and I would never travel by myself. Now I can proudly say that I actually don’t mind traveling alone. I mean don’t get me wrong traveling with others is much more fun having someone to talk to but I don’t need anyone to travel with. I also am starting to enjoy living alone and I have a lot more confidence in being able to care for myself. I am hoping that when I move back to the states after this journey is all over I am hoping that I get to live in an apartment by myself. I can’t imagine living with my parents again. No offence guys I am to comfortable living on my own.
Having new found confidence has helped me a lot. It has helped me make new friends, approach people in town that I don’t know but see around a lot so figure I should know. It has helped me in my relationship. It has also helped me with my anxiety. Now, my anxiety can still be pretty bad sometimes, but I can usually calm it down more quickly because of the confidence that I have built.
I will say this; confidence isn’t the only thing that has changed in me since joining the Peace Corps and moving to Uganda. I have become a better teacher, a kinder person (however I still have my days), a better friend, and I also don’t take people crap anymore. I have also been able to reevaluate my friendships and be okay with the loss of a few. Moving away has caused me to learn who my real friends are and who aren’t because for many it has become out of site out of mind and I am not about that. If you can’t talk to me and be here for me while I am away because damn I have needed people the friendship didn’t really ever mean anything. I know that sounds harsh but I am tired of getting hurt. Peace Corps will always be one of the best choices I have ever made. I am forever grateful for the changes that I have made in myself and I hope that others see them.