I’ve always despised the notion of the magical “click” that happens at the one-year mark of Peace Corps service. It seems to inspire some sort of unhealthy quiescence in newcomers rather than encourage them to try all the tools they have to get a project to work. As a former newcomer, I know. I often felt all right with stagnancy in my projects because the solution would presumably present itself at that checkpoint.
Failure is part of the work we do. We have to know that our way is not the only way and sometimes we have to be knocked down to accept some aspects of our fate here. Yes, put forth all of your efforts on your projects, taking multiple approaches to achieve success if you have to. Try, try again. Be prepared for disappointment and for feeling useless, but keep going.
The changes we see are gradual. Honestly, the most meaningful success moments for me have been a fleeting twinkle in the eye of a counterpart, or a particularly impassioned discussion with a friend. These things show me that I am having an influence on the people here, though they will pass you by if you don’t pay attention. Luckily they occur more often as time goes on.
Last week I attended my final training for Peace Corps. The next time I see some of my fellow volunteers will likely be at our Close of Service Conference in February. Symbolically, this tells me that I’m fully equipped to accomplish everything I can hope to accomplish in the next 11 months, though there are still new things I hope to try and milestones I hope to achieve.
I constantly find myself looking forward and counting down toward the end, but the past year has probably comprised the bulk of my personal growth. There aren’t any adjustments left; I feel as comfortable here as I probably will. Relationships will definitely mature and dissolve throughout this second year, but I know what to expect about my life here. There’s a satisfaction in that, and if I were to divide my service into two halves, the first would probably be more meaningful on an individual level.
Lately, the thoughts that enter my mind are about what will happen when I finish. I used to be so certain of my 2013 plans, but now I feel that anything could happen. I’m also mindful that time will not be on my side and a lot of my decisions are up to me – no more procrastination.