For those concerned and for those who have been so kind to write to me with support, thank you! As many of you have said, perhaps the emotion I have been feeling has not been anger at all, but fear and frustration at the uncertainties of things to come for me and for us in the near future.
Even so, for me the fear and frustration had built up inside of me such that, when I could no longer hold it in, it came out as anger. That is the anger I described in my previous blog and several volunteers have shared with me that they have felt likewise recently, snapping at counterparts or neighbors for no apparent reason.
After taking the opportunity to write out all of my anger and frustration I felt relieved and I could see, as I hope you have, how the anger stemmed from worrying.
That being said, many of you wrote to tell me how everything will work out, by and by. I want to share the joy I have felt in the past few days. The day I made that post, a PCV friend put me in contact with someone who might have an apartment for us in Boston, and one that is dog friendly! We were so, so concerned about finding a place to live and that was part of my anxiety. Another part of my anxiety was about finding a job. The next day I got an email from another PCV with a very exciting lead.
The speedy arrival of these two happy possibilities filled me with joy and reassured me that things are going to be alright. I want to share this sentiment with other volunteers who have been feeling like me. We will be okay I think!
Anxiety and anger followed by joy and thanksgiving. I know what this is because I've felt it before, when we came down here to begin with. It seems we have purchased our tickets and once again boarded that infamous roller-coaster called culture shock. This time it's moving in reverse.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Today I was overcome by an indiscriminate feeling of anger. My anger seemed to have no point of origin and no center of focus. It welled up from inside of me and persisted until I sat down and began to write the following. Brace yourself, it reads like something out of the book of Job. Tuesday, April 02, 2013: 18 days until Close of Service.
“I am angry because I am not in control and I want to be. I want to be in control of time so I can speed it up and go home sooner than these 18 days will allow. I want to be in control of my schedule so I can tell people when I would be happy to invite them over and when I want to be alone.
“I am angry because I wish I knew what to do next, where to work and how to do what I will be happy doing but I don’t. I can’t decide between making money and following my dreams. Either way I can’t find a way to do either. I can’t seem to find a job that will pay me well and I can’t seem to find a farm apprenticeship that will allow me to live with and support my wife.
“My adolescent neighbors have me at wits end. I am annoyed by Dayana for her constant babbling and I am annoyed by Geonella for her lingering and I am angry that someone tied that poor piglet to a string and allowed three year old Bryan to drag it around and I am angry that no one sees it like I do.
“I am worried that I will not be able to give everyone they time I wish I could spend with them and worried that once I get to Boston I will realize that I didn't need to rush to get there. I am worried I will not be able to spend enough time with Mom and Bart, with Tom, with Tony and Bryan, with Gary and Jeanne, with Stephanie and Aaron, with Jim and Marge, with Grandma and Grandpa, with Grandma Rose, with Dad and Carol, with Asa and Ani, with Heather, with Andrew, with Erin. I am worried I will let her down on the shirts. I am worried I won’t get a chance to see Kurt. I am worried I won’t have time to go to the boundary waters even though I said I wanted to. I am worried I should stay on the farm and raise turkeys and not go out to Boston right away.
“I am worried that if I don’t go out to Boston right away I won’t get a job soon enough and I won’t find an apartment. I am frustrated that I can’t look for these things here because I have the world’s worst internet connection. I am worried that I've been a Peace Corps volunteer for two years and I am still complaining about internet connections.
“I am preoccupied with the things I am not doing yet and complacent about the things I am doing at the moment. I am worried that this is equal to me wasting my life and I am worried that I will keep doing it. I am worried about turning 25 and not having started anything yet. I have no career. I am not working towards any goals because I am intentionally choosing to move to a place where I can’t work towards my goal of being Joel Salatin. I am very concerned that I never had an original idea and everything I do is a copy of a copy of a copy. I do not know myself and I do not know God’s will and I do not know the future and I cannot understand the past and I cannot see the opportunities that exist in the present.
“All I do is grumble and complain and moan, ‘Woe is me, what am I to do.’ When I believe I have determined what to do, the moment is past and I can no longer do it or my circumstances do not allow me to do it. I think it is a good idea not to keep piglets separate from the mother until she crushes two of them. I think it is a good idea to let piglets run free until they sprain ankles and contract tetanus. I think it is a good idea to buy chicks until they bring a deadly pestilence to the community and kill everyone’s full grown chickens. I think it is not a good idea to give people money until I see that giving them animals and feed results in so much waste.
“I read too much but I have not read enough. I spend my days dreaming of what to do next, but next stretches out before me so that it never seems to arrive. I stare at the earth as if it were dead despite all I know about life and growth. I am paralyzed to start anything for fear, near assurance actually, that it will fail. In failure I am to learn from my mistakes but I am unwise and the only lesson I learn is not to try again.
“I am weary unto death and I feel that I have already descended into the grave. I turn away from the poor and the hungry I do not feed. I grit my teeth and play along with drunkards and smile and shake hands with villains and thieves. I fret about whether I am being too generous while I worry that I am taking advantage of my best friends. I do not know how to demonstrate gratitude without seeming to patronize. I cannot look anyone in the eye or speak with sincerity. Every word I utter is a half-truth or a full lie. I lie because I do not understand the truth myself and anyway it would take too long to explain.
“I believe that I have given too much yet I am terrified to take anything. I believe that I have taken too much and yet I am terrified to give anything. I fear for my own poverty in the face of the poverty of others and as long as it is a fair deal and everyone is in agreement I am willing to take from the needy and give to those with plenty since that is the way the world works.
“I am afraid that I have discovered how the world works, I have seen its ugliness and its inequality and I have found myself powerless to change it. I crave the authority to speak and be heard, for my directives to be followed, but the two paths to authority I loathe and shun, respectively. The conventional path through education and publication and academy and pats on the back and handshakes I loathe because I know it to be false. I know its precepts to be unfounded and its conclusions to be worthless. The road less traveled through entrepreneurship, hard work, and vindication I shun and dread for fear that I will fail, fall short, or give up and thereby vindicate my opposition. I am at an impasse, I am at the fork and I cannot choose, I am indecisive and timid and insecure.
“In short I am Peter Constantian, a returning Peace Corps volunteer torn between two worlds.”
The older I get the more elusive truth seems to become. What I have written here seems to be the truth of the anger I felt this afternoon, or at least a part of the truth. Yet I fear that parts may be so obscure as to be useless to the reader. The full truth I could attempt to explain, but as I mentioned earlier, it would take too long to do so.
Please do not be concerned. I am not having a crisis and I am not losing my mind. I decided to publish this to see if other Peace Corps volunteers might sympathize with these emotions. I have a hunch that feeling this way is perfectly normal given such abnormal circumstances. I can’t wait to come home, but I’m dreading it!