Life isn’t always easy in the Peace Corps. In fact, it is rarely easy. Isolation, loneliness, stress, sadness, loss, and fleeting motivation plague volunteers. I’ve been recently afflicted by this plague.
Cashew season ended in June and so did my constant source of work. I work best when I’m overwhelmed with to do lists and massive amounts of work. I don’t handle idleness very well. I tried to get some things going, but things fall apart. I did train farmers on business literacy, so I did do something. But no matter what I did, my motivation to do something more was never there. Never wanting to fail, I didn’t start anything new because I want to give everything my all. I thought of many ideas, but none of them seemed feasible.
I’ve written before about my severely crappy diet. Well, it started to impact my overall health. I was tired, grouchy, angry, emotional, and overall lethargic. It doesn’t make for a very good combination. I feel into a funk. With the sun hiding behind clouds for over 3 months, I started to feel dreary. Nothing brought me satisfaction anymore. Nothing. I was watching copious amounts of The Office just to feel entertained. Even being around other volunteers, I felt listless and lonely.
To make matters worse, a quarter-life crisis decided that this was the perfect time to rear it’s ugly head. What did I really want to do with my life? What did I want to do after Peace Corps? Did I want to extended for a third year? What am I doing? Am I accomplishing enough? Do I need to be doing more? Am I a good person? These questions plagued me for days on end for weeks and weeks. I paced my room so many times, I’m surprised I didn’t wear a path in the concrete.
I spent hours crying, silent tears running down my face, hoping and wishing that answers would just fall out of the sky. I cried through an entire tro ride (5 hours long), every little thing making me cry that much harder. I felt the sting of despair, the gut wrenching pain of disappointment, and the hopelessness of desertion. The pain was overwhelming, but with a little help from my friends I started to feel better. I applied bandaids where necessary and developed a strategy to stop the bleeding.
First step – eat healthy.
Second step – learn to fill the void with something that brings me joy.
I found something for the second step, which just so happens to be my new secondary project. I should have seen this coming for a long time. It was the logical next step. Today I started working with my tailor more extensively on recordkeeping, improving sales, and well obviously – getting new clothes made. I bought a simple notebook for my tailor and I spent last night covering it with pretty fabric and setting it up for her. I started it with examples of how to keep records and what information she should record. Easy, simple records that will help her track her sales, expenses, customers, and time. I always get compliments on a certain dress she made for me – the Ghana Gabbana. So, she is going to start making the Ghana Gabbana in standard sizes, which I will take to Kumasi to sell at the Peace Corps office. If it does well, I’ll consider helping her set up an Etsy store. We are going to work together to create some new designs and ideas for production. We are hoping to have a great selection of items for the next All Volunteer conference. I also bought a market bag, which I lent to my tailor. The bag is made from recycled water satchets and is a great project for apprentices and tailors who have some time to kill. I have a personal art project in the works as well and I hope that I can work alongside my tailor on days when I am not as busy.
The cure for a mid-service funk/quarter life crisis is a little fabric retail therapy and a trip to the tailor.
(In case you are wondering, my current tally is as follows:
58 husbands (one chief)
54 items made at the tailor with 2 more on the way)
Also, if you are interested in any of the dresses, shirts, or skirts I posted on facebook – let me know!