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.)
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?