Why are you going into the Peace Corps?
People ask me that. Mostly my Life Coach asks. She doesn’t ask me because she doesn’t know the answer. She invites me to really explore the personal work I did to arrive at this decision. Why am I going into the Peace Corps?
This is part of the answer. A while ago I started taking inventory of my life. I knew there was more. I just didn’t know what it was. As I’ve written in an earlier post, I have a great job and arguably a good life. So why would I leave this in search of the unknown? Because my belief in something greater than what I have is stronger than my desire to remain in my comfortable life.
Another reason: the timing is right. Few people in my life know that when I graduated college I contacted the Peace Corps (like so many college grads do) and requested an application. At that time it was a paper application: page after page after page of data gathering (were computers even invented in 1986 let alone online form submission?) The multiple-page application was daunting and uninviting so I passed. It’s amazing how seamless the application process has seemed this go-around. Ironically, it is more complicated for me to go now than it would have been when I was 24, and yet it seems so much easier.
I must downsize, sell, donate, loan, and rent my space and belongings. I must demonstrate my ability to eradicate my debt or make provisions for it during my absence. I must show that my house will rent and that I have an income stream that is generated from it if I still have debt when I leave. I must get rid of services (I’ve had my land line for 22 years.) I must redirect my mail, cancel my car, business, and health insurance. And the list goes on and on.
Why am I going into the Peace Corps? I’ve lived in the DC area for almost 23 years yet I’ve always had one foot out the door. Sure, I made a life here but I never fully lived here. I’ve had periods of happiness and prosperity and I’ve had periods of loneliness. The circle of life, I guess. But now, when I look at my life, I am restless. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing and expect different results. I have to make a change.
Why am I going into the Peace Corps? And finally, while working with my Life Coach this past fall we did an exercise on finding my true purpose. She asked me questions like, “When in your life were you most passionate?” and “What things are you uniquely designed to do in this life?” and a theme that kept coming up was working with children. Woven throughout my entire life is the work I’ve done with kids. And through that process it became clear: Just because I didn’t have children of my own doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference in a child’s life. Or two children. Or a village of children.
So I lie in bed trying to imagine the place I’m going to and the work I’ll be doing. At this point it’s unclear. But one thing is clear: I feel joy when I think about it.