Decision

Aug. 12th, 2014 08:52 pm
quarter_to_five: (Default)
[personal profile] quarter_to_five
I just found out i've been accepted for a ten-month community development fellowship in southern Burundi, starting in three weeks. I have no idea what to do. If this had come through a few months ago, I would have been all over it, angry, lonely and dying to get out of here. Now though...

I've started (literally yesterday) at two new jobs, both of which have some bearing on my supposed field of study. I feel very deeply like that's the kind of thing I don't have the privilege of tossing by the wayside. On the other hand, that feeling may well be irrational - one is only for a few months and the other has only a very tangential bearing. That is, if I'm proactive about it, I might be able to get myself in on some GIS futzing around there and some day stick that on my resume. The actual job however is basically manning a customer service hotline (albeit a reasonably interesting one - dealing with situations and emergencies that happen on hiking trips.) Both are very much low-wage, tempy student jobs.

I guess it's not so much that the work is particularly thrilling, as that it felt comfortable. Next year was shaping up into something I could imagine myself enjoying. Working in a place with a good atmosphere, starting my Master's, etc. I just generally feel like i've been on this weirdly positive kick lately (that has actually involved, well, being online considerably less) and some part of me keeps waiting for the bubble to burst. I've gotten back to regular exercise and to actually enjoying it, lost weight I had basically accepted was there for life, etc. (Don't worry, i'm still well into obese according to the BMI, but I don't feel unhealthy anymore, which I am enjoying the hell out of.) School has been pretty good - my grades have picked up, I've really enjoyed the classes I had this last semester, I feel like I'm fairly confidently on top of finishing everything I need to close my Bachelor's (AT FUCKING LAST) etc.

Then, i'm not good at social stuff. It's work for me, to maintain relationships. I spent five hours in a car with my boss at New Job today, and I felt exhausted by the end of it, all the making of small talk and sitting through silences. Ok, that may be most people, I recognize that, but that kind of thing I do know how to get through. It's the day to day of having friends that i'm just really bad at. It's taken me these four-five years of being back in the city, at the university, the sphere of activists, to get to a point where I feel like there's someone there I can go hang out with if I want to. I suspect that it's not that people have previously all hated me or anything, but that this good phase thing involves me being able to reach out and communicate and all that. (Lets not talk about men. Or possibly women. The statistics are lacking and I'm not into speculating. An increasingly uncomfortable void in my life, anyway...not that theres anything on the horizon there, but maybe a vauge feeling like at some point there could be? Dunno.)

And here? This city is on fire. Kids screaming racist slurs have taken over the streets at night. Work with the bus drivers union has gotten more serious lately, there's a ton of stuff to get done, and I feel like, maybe, I got this. Like i've got my bearings there and I know how to start building up to one hell of a strike and action, fuck yeah.

That's all the reasons not to leave here. Then there's all the reasons not to go there:

Are we really going to do any damn good? What the hell am I doing taking off on some fuzzy hippy fantasy of exotic adventure while I have real work, real local activism, as a local, to do here. We don't know the language (ok, there's supposed to be an intensive course,) we don't know the country, we don't know the work. There's reams written about the privileged idiocy of well-meaningly self involved (see above) white people stumbling about, much more interested in developing themselves than anything else. If i'm just looking for a bit of immersive travel, I can go Helpx for a month or two.

More selfishly, I'm just terrified i'll be bored out of my mind. There's no electricity, no internet, no running water for long stretches. (less worried about that, frankly.) It's back to a socially intense, communal living situation. Don't know if i'm up for that. I'm still getting my breath back from the last one, five years gone now. What will I read? How will I write?

It also means giving up on some school stuff, rushing other stuff, possibly not managing to finish the degree and certainly letting a few grades slide that I could improve if I was here in September.

(And my parents are freaking out. They were fine at first, and then they googled Burundi. They can't make me not go, but they can be so worried and scared that I...what do you do then? My dad wants to talk with someone at the program, like i'm a kid going to camp. What am I supposed to do, not let him? I, uh, also haven't told them that this is the first year the organization is actually sending volunteers to Burundi specifically.) 

Against all that...I really want to go. Or maybe I just really want to want to go. Or something. I know that I don't want to knuckle under a litany of part time jobs and making awkward small talk with my boss for another year. I know that if there's any way to do things right there, I can be good at it. I know I can learn a hell of a lot. I think this could be helpful in terms of figuring out life and career and stuff down the road. I know i've always wanted to live in more places, to get out of Jerusalem for a bit, any number of things. Suddenly it's just really scary. It feels like there's stuff worth staying for here, and i'm not used to that feeling.Maybe they'll go away by the time I come back. I would have been disappointed if they turned me down, I think, but I also had, have stuff I was getting on with. Why can't things change at a calm, measured pace I feel in control of? Why can't I see through processes i'm hopeful about at intervals convenient to me?

I suppose I could turn them down and re-apply next year. But I still feel like i'm not a person who just...gets into things she wants. (I bet no one does though.) An opportunity has come up - I can't just turn it down just like that. Besides, what, there won't be stuff i'll be in the middle of next year? Surely after undergrad is better than in the middle of a master's, right? And I don't want to turn them down, I want to do this, maybe for selfish reasons, but I want to.

Then again, I'm calming myself down with the knowledge that I can quit.

Anyway, dunno. These have been thoughts. All advice, assuming anyone got through that, is more than welcome.

Date: 2014-08-13 03:05 am (UTC)
laurajv: Don't give me any wild ideas! (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurajv
My husband and I use a method called "ask George" (because we are in the us, and it's a coin flip, and George Washington is on the quarter coin). You assign a thing to each side of the coin, and flip, and whatever the coin decides is the thing you do -- EXCEPT! You ask yourself how you feel about the coin's "decision"! Because often we get stuck making a decision, but once the decision is made, we have Feelings about it.

So if the coin decides "Burundi" and you feel excited and happy, then go with that. If it decides "Burundi" and you feel sad or scared (or even "vaguely disappointed", a common response to asking George, IME), then Burundi is probably not where you want to be right now.

Sometimes taking the decision out of your hands, so to speak, but with the option to revoke, is really helpful.

Date: 2014-08-15 01:05 am (UTC)
umadoshi: (kittens - Jinksy - looking up)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
I'm a stranger/newish follower, so I have nothing concrete to offer, but I hope whatever option you go with works out well for you. Good luck!

Date: 2014-11-02 03:34 am (UTC)
wendelah1: (Elementary)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
I reread the story you gave me last February (I still love it!) and came to check your journal because I didn't remember if you'd posted recently. I don't know if you decided to do the fellowship in southern Burundi or not, but if you did, I hope you are well and happy. I saw that there was a travel warning on the area. Stay safe.

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