Case of the Mondays, Çdo Ditë

mondays
This last week has been really hard for me. I’ve been struggling with a lot of feelings … which can overall be summed up as “isolation, boredom, and uselessness.”

Another volunteer posted these documents on Facebook a few months back. I am unsure of their origin, but it breaks down the “normal” feelings Peace Corps Volunteers can expect to feel during their 27 months of service. (The social worker in me loves this stuff.)

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

According to this handy chart, during months 3-6, volunteers can expect to struggle with:

  • Fright (eh … kind of a strong word for what I am feeling)
  • Frustration with Self (YES!)
  • Loneliness (kind of)
  • Weight or Health Changes (thankfully, no)
  • Homesickness (YES!)
  • Uselessness (YES!)

I am feeling frustrated with myself for not being “better”: not knowing the language better, not making a bigger impact on my students, not meeting more people in my community, the list goes on. I think I need to give myself a break.

I wouldn’t say I feel lonely, exactly. I’ve felt lonely before. This is something different, more akin to isolation. I’ve got all kinds of wonderful, supportive people in my life, but right now, you’re all at the other end of a screen. Even my new Peace Corps friends are far away. I no longer see them 6 days per week. Sometimes, it feels like my most significant relationship is with my phone.

It’s hard being away from someone you love. Being away from EVERYONE you love, all at once, is overwhelming.

I miss my life in the U.S. like crazy. The big things, the little things. EVERYTHING. I’ve enjoyed snuggling up the last few nights with a good mystery novel (Tana French’s The Trespasser), but I can’t help wishing my cat were curled at my feet.

I’ve also been feeling kind of useless. I have now worked with all of the English teachers at my school (my counterpart, and two others), and they all do a fine job with the students. I keep asking myself, “How can I be most useful in this situation?”

I reached out to a few of my volunteer friends this weekend. It was a relief to discover I am not alone in my feelings. I also re-read this New York Times article.

Here is my plan, for now:

  • Be easier on myself
  • Remember to take this experience one day at a time
  • Continue reaching out to people I love, both in Kosovo and back home
  • Continue using my coping skills (yoga, reading, writing, crochet)
  • Continue to improve my Shqip skills/study (I finally have a tutor, yay!)
  • Focus on “little wins” in the classroom, rather than expecting to re-haul the whole system
  • Continue to have things to look forward to (I’ve got several fun events coming up this month.)

Any other suggestions or words of advice?

9 thoughts on “Case of the Mondays, Çdo Ditë”

  1. Your plan is a great one. Keep at it. I know that when I first started in my new job I felt similar but now six months in, I’ve had a few wins. It just takes time and experience. And I bet you are having an impact in ways you just can’t see or know just be being there. XOXO

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  2. That’s a great list. I have to agree, take it one day at a time and focus on the small victories. If you focus on the big picture too much, that’s when you will start to feel discouraged. Celebrate all of the good, no matter how small. Is there a friend finder type of thing online? Not for dating of course, but maybe you could find yourself an english speaking native that you could spend some time with? Just a thought!

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  3. I’m a PCV in the Philippines, and I relate to a lot of what you’ve said here. I totally didn’t believe that this or the chart with the adjustment cycle would apply to me, because how could a chart encapsulate the experiences of every PCV? Turns out the chart is always right. I think your list of ideas for how to get through the difficult periods is spot on. I got through my midservice crisis by reaching out to people and by taking up painting as a hobby. It gets me out of my head and helps me relax. Anyway, good luck and I’m definitely going to keep reading and find out more about Kosovo!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Amanda! It has been really helpful for me to hear from other PCVs about their own struggles. It helps to remind me that I am not alone, or strange for feeling the way I feel. And thanks for reading, also … I will definitely check out your blog. 🙂

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