Chapters of Life

“When people change / They gain a peace but they lose one, too.” — Future Islands, Seasons

In coming (close to) the end of my Peace Corps service, I’ve done some reflecting on my life and I came to a kind of realization recently. I used to think of the “chapters” of my life as being centered around big, obvious changes: getting a new job, moving, beginning or ending relationships. But I have come to think that instead, my life has had overarching themes that transcend whatever changes are happening. The changes reflect the overall theme at the time, but they aren’t necessarily markers of larger shifts in perspective.

That may sound a bit confusing, so let me explain. It is easy to think of my Peace Corps service as this weird, two-year chapter of my life. But after doing some thinking, I realize that this big change I made (joining the Peace Corps and moving to Kosovo) is actually part of a larger theme, one that’s been going on for the last 7 years (all of my thirties to this point).

I spent my twenties in jobs I didn’t care about and relationships that did not make me happy. When I turned 30, I had a talk with myself and realized I needed to gain better focus and enthusiasm for life. I took the time to research and explore new career options, went to graduate school to earn a master’s degree, gained experience in my new field, and joined the Peace Corps. All of these changes have been part of an overarching theme — to become the best version of me. That sounds cheesy, but it is true.

I now have a career I love (social work) and I’ve finally reached my goal of traveling internationally. I used to be jealous of people who were able to travel, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. I once heard that jealousy can be used as a tool to highlight what we don’t have but what we want for our own lives. Traveling was always hugely important to me, and I cringed at the idea of “settling down” before I had a chance to get out and explore other countries.

As my Peace Corps service winds down, I wonder if this chapter of my life is also coming to a close. I could be wrong, but I think it is. It has had its challenges, certainly, but it has also been the best and most significant chapter of my life thus far.

If I had to make predictions about the next chapter of my life (which, again, could be wrong), I think I will spend time “digging deeply in the same ditch.” That’s an expression an improv teacher of mine used to use, which means committing to a scene and pushing further with the same idea. I would like to find a job where I’ll want to stay for a good long while, and make a home of my own (I want to buy a place but I’m not sure how quickly that will happen).

Several people have asked me whether I’ll return to Chicago or Boston or stay in Michigan. I may have said this before, but just to restate: I want to create a new life somewhere I haven’t previously lived (I guess Kosovo gets crossed off that list, too. Ha!) #movingon #lookingahead #freshstart

So, these are my “deep thoughts” for now. I know my Peace Corps friends are spending time doing reflections of their own, which is, I think, a natural part of ending our service. I wanted to share my own thoughts to let everyone know you aren’t alone!

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