When I joined the Peace Corps a friend of mine told me, “Oh, watch out. It’s awesome, but you need to know that you will have your highest highs and your lowest lows of your life in the time you’re away.” I had no idea what she meant. I thought I was pretty savvy. I hoped I had already had my lowest lows of my life with the death of my three friends in college, and I hoped I was in for just my highest highs.
But my friend was right. I did have my lowest lows in the time I spent in Nepal. I had days where I questioned how I could exist in a country with so much, while my counterparts struggled for everything they got. I questioned how I could make an impact with so much work to do. I questioned myself, my god, my culture, my very being. It took everything I had to figure out how to help myself be a happy member of my community, one I did not fully understand.
With that said, I also had my highest highs during this time period. The night I understood everything my host family said at dinner time was a time that highlighted my growing linguistic skills. I hate to admit it, but when I got lice in my village, the women started inviting me to nit pick in the evenings. We sat on the steps of one of the houses, each person behind the last picking through each other’s hair, searching for nits, all while we gossiped and talks about the happenings in the village. These friendships carved on this staircase are powerful reminders of how something so traumatic can open us up to the beauty of life.
Everything that has happened to me since my experience in the Peace Corps has been measured against the statement my friend made. I have had some amazing highs and some desolate lows. I am sorry to say that some of my lows have been lower than they were in my life in Nepal, and I have had comparable highs to my time there.
There are days with extreme highs and lows like today. But I have to remember that everything in the middle is just that, a disappointment not a catastrophe. And on the same token, the highs I feel do not mean that I am some kind of rockstar. I must stay the course in the middle. It is in the middle where the sweet spot is, that place where awesome happens and can be sustained.