Let me start my story as far back as I can remember for you, just so this will make sense or maybe it still won’t but at least then you’ve got the context.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to do the Peace Corps. I remember as a child seeing the commercials of the people in some far away land, helping people and knowing that I would do that. I remember planning, as any precocious seven year old would, that I would go with my mother. Yes, that was my plan; that my mother and I would serve together, that she would come with me. As I got older I realized that she would not and that this adventure would be mine alone.
In March of 2011 I submitted my application for the Peace Corps. In May of 2011 I graduated college and headed down to the University of Virginia to attend the Sorenson College Leaders Program. After I finished that, I headed home for an agonizing month of applying for jobs and copious amounts of bad television.
In August, I got my first job ever, with a firm called MF Global (that’s a whole ‘nother story, Google the name if you don’t know). In September I had my Peace Corps interview and was accepted.
The real day though where I feel like this started was April 30th. That’s the day I got my nomination. That’s the day it became real for me. I know that sounds strange, because clearly I’d applied over a year before that, but the day I responded to her saying yes! I’ll do it. Yes, I’ll accept your nomination to leave in March of 2013. Yeah I’ll go to Eastern Europe for business development — that’s when it became real.
I remember coming back to my computer, I’m pretty sure it was a Friday, after going downstairs to work out and seeing the email. It was on my other email account, the one I don’t check as much and it was from a few days earlier. In fact there were two emails, a follow up to the first, that I hadn’t responded to.
I was elated. Ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like in that moment my life changed and I guess it did.
I responded, gathered my things, got in my car and parked outside my office. I wanted to call someone so bad, I wasn’t sure who I wanted to tell, I wasn’t even sure I believed it. I called my parents, in a blur and then after those calls, this strange feeling of dread, this overwhelming fear set in. I wouldn’t say that I live my life in fear, so it was strange. It was strange being that scared of something abstract, when the only other things that get me that worked up are imagining a loved one’s death.
That’s strange to even think about being as scared of someone dying as going to the Peace Corps. At first I wasn’t sure why I was so emotional, I was just awash in it, but eventually I realized. At first whenever I thought about it, I was almost in tears, that’s how overwhelmingly terrified I was.
The thing is I’m not sure even now that I understand all that I’m scared of. Now when I think of it that fear is just the lining, the majority of me, is so unbelievably excited, so overjoyed to embark on this adventure; but I’m still not entirely sure why I was so scared. I’ve got a lot of guesses and mostly I’ve learned how powerful fear can be, how overwhelming, how paralyzing, how debilitating and that has been one of the best lessons of this experience so far.