Saturday, February 25, 2012

Breaking Up With the Peace Corps or Choosing Between 2 Dreams

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged a whole lot lately. Or maybe you haven't noticed because you actually saw a few of the posts I deleted shortly after posting them. For the last 10 days I've had something huge hanging over my head, and now that it is for the most part resolved, I'm ready to come clean about it.
If you've been reading this blog for long you know I have a tendency to share a lot of my bigger life issues on here, often because I have no one at home to talk to about it. Writing them out, even if just to share them with the ethernet, somehow makes me feel better. And there is a lot to be said for the catharsis that comes (for me) with just writing out your thoughts.
So where was that inherent trait these past few days? Why was I not writing out and sharing my feelings the way I usually do when faced with a huge decision? I don't have an answer for that, other than this time I just couldn't bring myself to do it. No, I'm not apologizing to you my awesome readers for not sharing. I'm explaining this to help convey just how huge this decision was for me, that it transcended usual activities and behaviors.
Last week, completely unexpected, the Peace Corps finally placed me. I have decided to not publicly share where. (If you want to know, I can tell you personally.) It was very, very unexpected. When things went south back in October with the PC (which at the time I blogged about but have since hidden for reasons I can also explain privately but not publicly) I had to decide if I was going to keep holding on and holding out for them, or start making new plans. Oddly enough, the PC themselves strongly encouraged me to move on and make new plans.
After a bit of soul searching- did I have any other big dreams or goals in life I wanted to pursue other than the PC?- I finally moved on. I have always wanted to be a "real writer," and decided to start looking for ways to pursue those goals. No one was more surprised than I still am that that path has worked out so well for me. I'm editing a daily website and loving that. I'm writing articles every day for a major publication that allows me to learn interesting new concepts every day. I never would have expected that writing about the stock market would be a dream opportunity for me, but I'm loving it. And, somewhere in the middle of all that, I found my creative side again (she had been missing for a very long time), and I've written 1.5 books in under a month. Not to mention, my political blog gets enough traffic that I made a few dollars a month off of it, and is a lot of fun for me to write (even if I never do get comments).
Suddenly my other lifelong passion and dream [to be a writer] is panning out. I've even mentioned it here several times on my blog about how I am happy again. After over 2 years of heartbreak, depression, and really struggling to find joy or regain my self-confidence after losing my job(s), I feel like I am on the right path and things are going well. In short, I'm happy again.

But then that coveted blue packet arrived. Out of nowhere the Peace Corps was finally sending me somewhere. I always imagined that the day my packet arrived I would be outside anxiously waiting for it, calling friends and family to share the news, and screaming with joy I was so excited. Instead, it got delivered to the wrong address, someone else opened it first, and I heard the news over the phone. And I burst out crying.
The location wasn't the problem, neither was the assignment. Both were HUGE surprises and not anything I had ever expected or anticipated doing. After eighteen months of the application process, it wasn't the happiest day of my life. Instead it was horribly confusing and upsetting. I just didn't know if this was the right thing for me to do or not anymore.
It took me about 24 hours, maybe longer, to stop feeling depressed, and instead to start looking at the offer as the chance to choose between two amazing dreams.
Now, which dream did I want more?
I'm finally happy. I'm doing great. I'm on a very good path.
But I have always, always wanted to join the PC.
I didn't want either dream "more." I wanted both dreams and I had to choose between them.
Now for some factors. The PC and I don't have a good track record. Between the delays, program cuts, etc, I have little faith in them. And the country I was placed in, well, let's just say that it is uncomfortably close to Iran and Syria. My biggest fear was that I would say yes to the PC, lose my current opportunities here, and then my program get cut (again). And I'd be stuck with having to start my life all over - again!
But that was just one concern, but probably my biggest. But then, was I really going to turn down my PC dream to stay home and be a paid (but not well paid) freelance writer who doesn't even have a firm contract? No, that didn't make sense either.
Multiple times I have sat down to send in the acceptance letter. And I wrote my decline letter as well. I even announced to my friends and family a few days ago that I was saying yes! I had drafted the email to accept, but as I was about to hit send I had a full blown panic attack. The very next day as I prepared to send the rejection letter in, I had another panic attack. (Panic attacks and I are good friends. If you ever need tips on how to get yourself out of one, I have plenty.)
So I just waited until I had a firm answer and no panic attacks. And that day never came.
In the end, I missed a deadline I had been aware of with the PC, and they broke up with me. Somehow, that makes it all better for me. I didn't have to choose. And I don't know that I ever could have made the choice between my 2 biggest dreams. Having the option taken away from me somehow makes me relieved. I've allowed myself a mourning period. I cried until I had a headache and my guts hurt. I just lost a lifelong dream, and because of the way I lost it, I may not be allowed to pursue it again in the future. It is terribly frightening that I also am now on a very unknown and complicated path as I pursue writing.
But today I'm starting over again. Today I am officially pursuing my lifelong dream of becoming an established, paid, and successful writer. It won't be easy, and I may always have some regrets about the Peace Corps, but starting today I choose to be grateful that I was ever given the chance to pursue two dreams and that both ever had the chances of becoming a reality for me.


  1. I want to know where!

  2. Anonymous3:38 PM

    Thanks for sharing. I have almost posted on your swing state voter blog before, but always delete it! Agh. I am not sure about talking to total strangers over the internet...I used to have a blog, but deleted it b/c I got creeped out thinking about people I don't know looking at pictures of my family. I enjoy reading your blogs and I am glad you settled your conundrum about which path to take.

  3. This was really beautiful.
    Your last sentence up there really did me in. Just beautiful. I wish I could be as grateful a soul as you are.

    Everything's coming your way Erin Ann!

  4. Sometimes we are unclear because just around the corner is Plan C... the one the Lord chooses for us. And sometimes because he just wants us to be happy. I'm happy that you are! I think that you've been quite open about private things, and applaud your courage.

  5. Anonymous6:01 AM

    Making a decision is liberating. Read How to Be, Do, or Have Anything. Great Book.


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