Friday, November 23, 2012

What Can I Live With?

Ah! It has been quite some time, hasn't it? The days here pass by so quickly and slow at the same time and before you know it 2 months have gone by since my last post. I have become so accustomed to living here that I don't feel the urge to document it all. Taking photos seems like such an outsider thing to do. At this point, I almost feel that sharing photos isn't what this blog is about anymore, but rather the thoughts, questions, insights I experience.

To be honest, I didn't think anyone would be interested in reading, but it was super sweet to hear that my amazing family is checking in. So Gloria and Patty, this post is for you!

On the door to my room, I made a sign. It is actually part of a clever system Sarah, my German roommate, and I have set up. One side has an inspiring quote from brilliant Eleanor Roosevelt to keep us motivated. The other side says "All adventurous women do." A quote taken from HBO's "Girls," a show that has created a bond among us females in our home. This side has a dual purpose. 1) To remind us that all adventurous women do. Do what? Do something! And maybe that something is one thing every day that scares us. 2) It is to let the other roommate know that some alone time is needed. Living in a house with 16 people sometimes doesn't offer you those moments.

These past couple of days I have required that time. We just finished our staff retreat, parted ways with loved ones and did massive prepping for Thanksgiving. Overwhelmed to say the least. The staff retreat was an inspiring meeting of the minds: culturally, professionally and personally. Global Brigades has become not just my work, but my family. Together we scheme and dream of what our organization will look like in 10 - 15 years. It seems silly sometimes because I can not even begin to imagine who I will be in one year, but from the beautiful and touching comments my GB family say about me I am pretty positive Rachel in 2013 is a pretty amazing woman. (Thanks, dudes!)

One of our weekly discussions is what each one of us will do when we get home. Some are applying to med school. Some to grad school. And some are trying to figure it out. I am part of the latter. I get so excited, scared, impatient, demanding, oh I go through the gamut with myself, over all the possibilities. For example: At the retreat, we talked about our exit strategy from a community. What does that look like? How is it sustainable? Does GB still provide support? I had proposed a scholarship initiative through Public Health and by the end of the day I thought, "International Education! Yes, that is what I need to get involved in." But what does that even mean for me. Can I live abroad for years at a time? The longer I spend here the more I doubt my capacity to do so. And coming to terms with that is a process, but at least I have the opportunity to try. And you don't know till you try. But once again, I have opened another treasure trove of questions and my mind is spiraling. I almost react to every experience and thought trolling to find out who I will be. It's exhausting.

Yesterday I spoke with a friend, who is going on his second year with GB and living outside America. This conversation touched on aspects of life abroad, attitude with returning to the US, development work in our own communities back home. The topics were eye opening and honestly things I hadn't considered. I think my brain's mouth was gaping over all that I had overlooked. This whole time I have been focused on myself and the future instead of the conversation I am actually living everyday.

And I think that is where the glitch is. I want to know who I will be and what will I be doing. And I want to know NOW!!! I'm like Veruca Salt when it comes to my future. I guess not much as changed, huh, Pop? Am I a graduate student? What kind of work will I be doing? Will I be happy doing that work? Where I can serve best? The ultimate question is "What can I live with?" And answer is "You don't need to know now, Veruca, and when you do it will more than likely change with time." Oh brother.

My boyfriend wrote me this before I left, "It’s all going to be ok. You are whole. You are loved. You are a beautiful and essential part of a beautiful universe.” Be true to yourself and everything will work out – because you already have everything you need inside of you. And you are exactly where you should be, because this is where you are!" They are words I cling to now. I am here for one single year and I'm already a quarter through. The best thing I can do for myself is to stay present, stay focused and absorb. Grad school isn't going anywhere and neither is my future. The growth and change and all that I want to be will happen. (insert sigh of relief)

Thanks for tuning in! I feel actually better sharing with you and letting you know where I am. I miss you.