Letter to my Future Self
It’s April 12th, 2019. A calm but radiant Friday afternoon in Talmest, Morocco. You’re in your second year of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Actually, about 19/27 months in. If you asked yourself 5 years ago, a sophomore at college in upstate NY, what you’d be doing now, maybe you’d give answers like “living abroad, learning a new language”. But to express what you have now? Sitting on your own porch in some Moroccan village that you weirdly feel is part of your home now, not likely. You rang in 24 in this village and now couldn’t have asked for a better place for your life to be. You’ve learned a lot, made lots of mistakes, felt lots of emotions, but you’ve grown as a person in more ways you think you’re aware of at the moment. Since September 2017 you’ve…
learned a new language
explored a new country
felt unsure and lost
feel deeply integrated into a new culture
embarrassed myself in a multitude of situations
felt my lowest of the lows
succeeded in projects (& very much failed)
built strong, beautiful relationships
Your routine has changed a lot. Remember the days when you woke up at 6:00am to put on a stiff LOFT-y outfit and march out the door to join the parade of commuters ready to repeat the day you all finished just hours ago last night? Here are some things you can do now, that you probably couldn’t have before.
You can sit in a room for 3 hours drinking tea and shooting shit without thinking of what you could/should be doing in that “wasted time”. You move pretty slow these days. You’ve been forced to adapt in some ways while finding a balance between adaption and staying true to your values.
You could be thrown into a room of small-town community members you’ve never met before, speaking a different language, definitely feeling as though you’re “the outsider”, but you’ll make it work.
You can have strong, powerful discussions and conversations in a language and words that aren’t your own.
You can love and feel connections and emotions to people when you look at each other but see few cultural and personal values in common.
You can do all these things, but you’ve learned here are some of the things you cannot do/be/become.
You cannot be Moroccan. Feel what a Moroccan feels or know what they want from their community or country.
You cannot decide for these people. Tell them how to think or act. You can just offer a different, new perspective.
You cannot stay here forever. There’s a reason Peace Corps is 2 years. This is not your home or your country and it never will be.
When the time comes to pack up and leave, you cannot dwell on the past. You must channel these intimate memories and experiences to move forward in your life.
You feel a lot each day, whether that be happiness, loneliness, power, love, confusion, belongingness. Your emotions are heightened and vulnerable. You think way too much. But before you go to bed, you tell yourself that every day is a new day. One day you will look back and you’ll miss the things you won’t have. The groups of noisy children playing outside your windows every evening at 6pm, the call to prayer echoing through the village, the mountains, the knocks on the door, and the faces of people who have helped you and made you feel like you belong here. You’re not sure where you’ll be in 5 years…happy, unsure, fulfilled, energized? Time is sneaky and moves quick, so make each day, week, or moment meaningful over there in Morocco and enjoy this all while it’s still here.