the truth about fomo as a peace corps volunteer.

When I was growing up my parents were strict. I jokingly tell people that the pastor’s kids had more freedoms than my older brother and me. My parents had parental locks on MTV, BET, and VH1 (Larry figured out the code, P.S. Don’t use your children’s birthdays, hehe). Sleeping over at friends houses were few and far between and I knew nothing about sex until I was 14 or 15, since I was excused from the “Facts of Life” education at school. So, growing up it’s safe to say, I dealt with a lot of FOMO (failure of missing out) because in many cases I did.

As a college student, I made sure I never missed out on anything. Going to the library parties Wednesday through Saturday night, football games, university events, movies, Spring break trips, you name it, I was probably there. This trend continued through my 20s as my way of making up for lost time.

Then, I joined the Peace Corps.

27 months away from my close family and friends.

27 months of missing out.

Missing out of life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other significant milestones.

Besides many trivial things I am missing back stateside during my time in Namibia, these are real things. These are times I can’t get back or recreate. These are times I couldn’t prepare myself for prior to leaving for service, although I did try.

It has become so easy for me, and I am sure for other expats, to dwell on everything we’re missing at home. Recently, my friend, Carrie, challenged me to think of things I would be missing if I chose to not come to Namibia. With a little bit of thought, here I go:

    1. Making Lifelong Friends

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      I mean, I could make lifelong friends anytime or place, but in April of last year, I began a journey with volunteers who will always just “get it” and “get me”. Volunteers from all over the States who will appreciate what it takes to be a PCV. I have made friends who continue to challenge me, support me, and relate to me on a daily basis. In addition, I have gained friends from Namibia- from PC staff, colleagues, host families, and neighbors. Being a volunteer in Namibia means gaining a namily, that’s for sure.

    2. Learning a New Language and about a New Culture

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      Why would I want to re-learn French when I can learn Oshikwanyama? I learned a language I never even knew existed in a country I never knew existed before applying to Peace Corps. Each and every day I learn new things about a culture I would have never known about without taking the leap to travel outside the borders of my own.

    3. Traveling to New Countries

      Before Namibia, the only stamp in my passport was from Mexico (not even sure if that counts if you’re from Texas). I have never been an avid traveler, but by the end of my service, I will have a handful (or two) of stamps added to my collection.

    4. Discovering New Skills and Hobbies

      I taught myself to hand embroider. I’ve practiced more of my calligraphy and doodling (yes, there’s an art to doodling). I made my own sourdough bread and reignited my love of gardening. Yes, the life of a volunteer is hectic, but I also have a lot more downtime than I have ever had (or will ever have again). Watching movies and TV shows get old, so learning something new is never a bad idea.

    5. Strengthening Old Relationships

      Although I am thousands of miles away, there is something about distance that helps strengthen relationships. Not only in romantic relationships (but, those too). Being away from family and friends has allowed me to make more decisions about me, and what makes my life meaningful and fulfilling without other people’s anxieties and emotions influencing them. I have gained a greater sense of independence and realize more of my ability to do things (and do them well) on my own. Distance has made me better at planning communication with people back home while also determining which relationships have been worth sustaining in my time away.

    6. Increasing Knowledge and Skills for Future Endeavors

      Peace Corps, for me, offered an opportunity to change my career path while gaining two years of hands-on experience. I have also had the ability to acquire knowledge and refine skills that may make me more marketable post-Peace Corps. Granted, there is still plenty of time between now and COS (close of service), these are still important things to consider IMO.

    7. Realizing How Much “Grit” I Have and How to Survive on Less 

      Endurance. Passionate. Excellence. Courage. Perseverance.

      I don’t think I truly knew what grit was until I joined the Peace Corps. But, I’m positive that I have had in inter-weaved in my personal makeup my entire life. Many days as PCV are disappointing. Many days I must revisit the drawing board. In all of the unpredictability, these things are predictable. So, why do I do this? Why am I still here? Grit. That’s the only way to explain it. I have the desire and need to achieve and love the feeling of accomplishing a long-term goal. Yes, enduring a variety of hardships in my living and working environments may not be for the faint of spirit, but in a crazy way, having grit breathes life into me.

      Also, no promises that I won’t try to serve lentils 101 ways after Peace Corps, but living minimal really makes you think about what is important in life, and what brings true happiness (the secret is: it’s not things).

So, with all the FOMO, there is a joy to be gained. JOMO, if you will (I didn’t make this up). I’ve found joy in having time to get to know myself absent of fears and anxiety. Even if I am missing milestones back home, there are so many experiences I am gaining here. With more one year of service to go, I continue to look forward to the months ahead.

❤ Krystal

[servant] leading to change.

My senior year of college, I was co-captain of my soccer team. I’ll admit, I was never the best player on the team, but I was voted by my teammates “Most Improved Player,” for two years consecutively (hey, I won something). I didn’t always have the right answers, but on and off the field I led by example.

When this translated into a business setting, I naturally developed a leadership style leaning more towards servant leadership. Servant leaders put the needs of others first which helps people to develop and to perform at their highest level. So, if this means sharing workloads, encouraging, and supporting, count me in. 

For me, I rather show people how to lead than show people how to follow. 

The word sustainable gets tossed around a lot when you’re working at a grassroot level. The idea of meeting people where they are is alive and well. In order to achieve sustainability, you must first approach change. 

As a health volunteer, a lot of my focus is on behavior change.

When I leave Namibia next year, I hope that positive change was inspired through my actions on a daily basis from my willingness to get my hands dirty or lend a helping hand. I want my actions each day to reflect my support and committment to change in my community.

I hope a decade from now that one person who thought they were following me will realize they were actually leading.

This post is part of Blogging Abroad’s 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week four: Change and Hope.

thank you for dumping me.

 

Thank you for dumping me.

Because when it comes down to it, I wasn’t brave enough to dump you.

We were great together. We had fun. We traveled. We loved. We started to dream and plan our future together.

In the end, you decided we were better off going our separate directions. And you know what?

Thank you.

I mean that in the most sincere and honest way ever.

It wasn’t fair of me to expect more than you could give.

I’m going to say this out loud. I have dad issues. They are buried so deep and instead of leaning on you as my partner in crime, friend, and lover, I relied on you to fix the hurt from a past that you couldn’t fix. That you shouldn’t fix.

It wasn’t fair to you. 

I gave up things that made me happy, and expected you to do the same. Instead of uniting to make the best two people, I expected each of us to sacrifice everything. We slowly began to suffocate. Our aspirations became a thing of yesterdays.

Emotions aside, I held on to us so hard, because everything around me was crashing down. Instead of being the one by your side or leading the way. I was the one behind you pushing. Ignoring wants, needs, and desires. Pushing. Forcing things in a time and place that neither of us were ready for at the time. Not together, at least.

So, in the upcoming months things are changing for both of us. Things that would have never come into fruition if we were together neither professionally and personally.

Sometimes there is no “closure”, you just move on. And you know what? That’s okay. To come out of this unchanged, would be a disservice to myself.

For the times we had together, I will cherish forever.

❤ Krystal

it’s my birthday and my big annoucement!

“Meetings in the sunroom indicated decline in progress. Ms. B was a breast cancer survivor, but telltale signs told us this horrible disease had returned. She sat at the far end of the table. Uncharacteristically quiet and still, she seemed like a shadow of her former self. Her skin was now a yellow-green, like a half ripened banana picked over at the grocery store. The muscles in her arms had lost most definition as they wasted away from atrophy. Her skin was thin like tissue paper and you could see the blood vessels in her neck and face. Her sandy-brown wig now sat too big on her head. As we began discussing her prognosis, Ms. B sat wordless, while forcing herself to sip the supplement I brought her.

We reviewed Ms. B’s chart, which included her drastic weight fluctuations, elevated laboratory panel, and physical appearance, and suspected the worse. My preceptor, who was the facility’s dietitian and social worker, showed Ms. B her chart. They discussed her options while insisting that she go to the hospital, just for good measure. Ms. B tried to assure us she’d be okay. I didn’t know then that I would never see her again.

I am thankful that most of my experiences with patients end in success and healing, but I never forget the ones I couldn’t help. I understand that diseases, like cancer, can be beyond our control. However, with preventative measures such as education, many other diseases and illnesses can be managed and even avoided.

By being able to share my knowledge with people it may benefit is one of the many reasons I want to join the Peace Corps. My knowledge in dietetics can be used to help others improve and even extend life experiences. Too commonly, nutrition counseling is seen as a luxury, but it shouldn’t be that way. I want to be able to change lives by aiding people to make better dietary choices. The valuable contribution of my knowledge in nutrition, health, and wellness is a way I can be of service to people who may not have access to this information.

I understand that there will be many challenges, both physical and emotional, that I have never experienced. Although it may be impossible to wholly prepare for every unforeseeable challenge, through my life experiences I have learned to always be coachable, adaptable, prepared, and keep my composure during difficult circumstances.

My excitement comes from the desire to see a foreign country in a nontraditional way, raw and unfiltered. I’m eager to venture outside my comfortable American life, and relish the idea of learning a foreign language, seeing new landscapes, and, most importantly, spending time with diverse people that I will come to love, appreciate, and cherish. I look forward to creating meaningful relationships that last beyond my years of service. I want to understand people and customs that are unlike my own while contributing to pushing the world towards peace, respect, and understanding.”

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I joined the Peace Corps, ya’ll!

I started this post over 5 months ago, but have waiting for the perfect time to let everyone know. What better day than my birthday?

With the right support systems in your life, you learn to think outside the box, and it opens your eyes to a whole new World, without borders.

When you find your purpose it’s something that you can’t shake. It keeps you up at night. You visualize yourself in that place or time.

And there is peace in that.

A weird sense of peace. It’s difficult to describe, it just feels peaceful. (I know, you’re not supposed to use the same word to define a word.) My blog, my rules.

After the passing of my friends late last year, I realized even more how important it is to live with purpose and intent. Some people will think you’re crazy or what you’re doing is dangerous. For those people, I will tell you to re-read the previous three paragraphs.

The way that everything will pan out (once medical clearance, by the end of this week), I will be flying out to Namibia, Africa on April 11 of this year. I will be working as a Health Extension Volunteer in the Community Health and HIV/AIDS (CHHAP) program.

My blog will be taking a somewhat new direction as I begin this new adventure in life.

Thoughts and prayers are always encouraged during this exciting time in my life.

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❤ and peace,

Krystal

why i am trying not to try.

You read that right. I’m not trying anymore. See, the problem with trying is, most of the time, I don’t care what the outcome is, because, at least I “tried.” Have you ever tried to lose weight? How about tried to meet a friend for lunch? Did you try to wake up early this morning? So, how did that work for you?

I’ve noticed with myself saying I am going to “try” and do this, that, or the other often. You know what else I noticed when I say this? I don’t do it. I’m going to try and go to the gym 3x per week turns into, “It’s day 2 which is close enough to day 3, so… I tried.”  Sometimes only trying means only setting yourself up for mediocrity or even failure.

So, my challenge (here I go again, with the challenges), don’t try to do anything this year. Go do it. Start today. Start this week. Start now.

I changed my thinking from, “I’m going to try and workout at least 3x per week” to “I’m going to try and workout at least 3x per week.” And guess what? I did it.

“I’m going to try and meet a friend for lunch” becomes “I’m going to try and meet a friend for lunch.” Check.

I’m going to try and wake up early.” You’re crazy, check back later.

But, fo’ realz. Stop trying. Just do. You’ll thank me later.

 

>>–> follow your dreams <–<<

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I am still coming back to reality from the last week. I guess I graduated last weekend. Milestones such as this sneak up on me so quickly. Plus, it has been a difficult concept for me to grasp, since 1) Commencement isn’t until May and 2) I still need to take my board exam.

Last Friday night, I was able to celebrate the marriage of two friends in Oklahoma City. Then, I rushed back to Texas on Saturday morning to take a cat nap, study a little, and head to my final exam for my Anatomy and Physiology II class.

When I finished my exam, I called my mom to tell her how it went. I cried in relief of it being over with. I also began to cry about all of the life events that have transpired in the month and days prior. It was finally a chance for me to be still(ish) and absorb the moment.

Once I approached my neighborhood, I told my mom I would have to call her back. I walked in and to my surprise, my mom was standing there waiting for me. However she pulled this off, I do not know. But, all that mattered was my mom was here. I gave her a huge hug as I cried like a big 28 year old baby.

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I want to thank all of my friends and family who have supported me over the last two years:

Josie and Dennis D: Thank you for the room and board, delicious food, shoulders to cry on and listening ears. Thanks for checking my car for flats and making sure I bundled up when I weather got cold. Thanks for celebrating my promotions and giving me advice on approaching serious subjects. I love you both and thank God for you both.

Rachel W: Thank you for the text messages and phone calls throughout this time. You always lift my spirits. You are a great friend.

Libby D: Thank you for the beer and/or wine and pep talks. Thanks for helping me pronounce all those stupid medical words and visiting me on my coffee breaks. Thanks for telling me like it is and keeping me grounded.

Carrie H: Thank you for the continued encouragement throughout this entire journey and reminding me that not everyone can do this. Thanks for listening to my blubbering tears through the phone and letting me know that it was going to be okay. I love you so much, sis.

Stephany P: Thanks for being my voice of reason. You are always there to help me think out loud and really dig deep. Thank you for your support, emails, text, and calls.

Brent and Kyle: Thanks for being my study relief with good laughs and company. I needed that.

❤ Krystal