It was a plan I had for two years in the making.
After graduation, I decided to ditch the normal route and took a leap of faith and began my application process to join the Peace Corps. What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking why not? Life is about taking endless opportunities and challenging yourself to your true potential. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic to find out I was invited to join the Peace Corps. I received my medical and legal clearance, I was officially leaving and nothing was going to change my mind. This was a dream come true… right? You see, once your dreams come true… everything changes. Yes… you feel such pure happiness but then you have an "OMG" moment and realize this is a bittersweet moment as well, everything is about to change.
Unfortunately, what I thought I wanted for my future was not apart of my destiny and that's okay. Peace Corps wanted me, but I no longer wanted Peace Corps and I had five solid reasons why I gave up my dream.
1. My family & friends are my anchors.
The idea of being away from the most important people in my life gave me anxiety. My relationships are very important to me. These are MY people. They know me the best and they know how to help me when I can’t help myself. My support system. I would miss milestones… I want to be there when my sister graduates from college, teach my brother and sister how to drive, watch my best friend marry the love of her life, watch my little cousin take her first holy communion and just simply be there when new members of our family arrive. There is nothing sweeter than these moments and I would miss it all if I leave.
2. I knew it would be dangerous but it didn't resonate with me until now.
Just because the Peace Corps is government operated, does not mean you are safe or protected. The Peace Corps will “prepare” you, but they can not save you, in reality, you are all alone in a country who do not respect women, especially American women.
My fears of being sexually assaulted were becoming a reality in my head. I am a 5’2 blonde in a country with locals who look nothing like me, I began to see myself as a magnet towards assault and I couldn't do anything about it.
3. Political issues were affecting the way volunteers would live in the country.
I was informed that my country of service was going through a political issue that led to protesters. Due to these issues, internet access was limited, which meant no communication with anyone back home, and lockdowns were also becoming a reality.
Isolation and loneliness are very common in the Peace Corps, you live in a completely different country with people you don't know, a language you do not understand, and a lifestyle that is completely foreign. I was prepared for all this, but I was not prepared for the extra inconvenience I would face.
4. I wasn’t going to change the world… and it was becoming clearer.
I wanted to change the world, but I realized I wasn't going to do that by joining the Peace Corps. I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with past volunteers and what struck me the most is how the locals in your community may not be as appreciative as you hope or expect. They do not realize how much you are sacrificing and they also do not care. I began to wonder, if my sacrifice wasn't going to be seen, then how will this affect my service?
The world is not what it once was, there are tragedies all over the world, in many different countries. I do not have to join the Peace Corps to change the world, but this does not mean I cannot make a difference in my own backyard. I realized I could still make a difference without making a drastic change in my life.
5. The possibility of being discombobulated could hurt my future.
This final reason made the most sense for my well being. I suffer from anxiety and I’ve learned to manage it within my environment and lifestyle. I’m all about taking risks and having adventures that fuel my soul, but I began to see that Peace Corps would possibly make me feel defeated in a way, where I could be lost in my anxiety and unable to manage it within this new lifestyle I would have to embark on. It's okay to realize that you do not want to feel weak during a journey like Peace Corps. Having that realization makes you more brave and resilient.
Do not get me wrong, I did not lose my passion for the Peace Corps. I respect what John F. Kennedy began to develop, but at this day in time, it's only the IDEA of it that I love and not the actual lifestyle, I would have to live.
I firmly believed that I was ready for this adventure and maybe I was, but I choose to take a different path, and I did not tread this lightly. I have no regrets about applying or withdrawing my application. It was still a great experience to go through. No matter what decision I was going to decide on, it was going to be a gamble either way. I would have made the biggest mistake of my life or I would have made the best decision of my life but I knew no matter what I choose I was going to be okay and my future was looking bright no matter what path I decided to take.
I wanted to be apart of something that was bigger than myself, but what I did not realize is that my world and my country was falling apart too, I did not need Peace Corps to make a change, my own country needed me to stay and make a change, a place I knew and they knew me.
Peace Corps is wonderful, but it is not my destiny and I am content.