I never thought my most meaningful relationship would be with someone born in 1961. Yet, Thursday I happily celebrated my six-month anniversary with the Peace Corps. I hit the quarter mark of my service and the new year, prompting the question “what will you resolve this year?” I find myself looking back instead of forward. The obligatory lists of resolutions and goals have been circulated across my Facebook newsfeed and for once they do not make me feel inadequate. I did not make any resolutions last year, and yet seem to have hit many common resolutions that show up on a number of lists.
2013: Live abroad-check, quit your job-check, keep a journal-checl, adopt a pet-check, change your hair-check (I tried and failed to go blonde), start working out more-check, make new friends-check, learn a new language-check, allow yourself to be selfish-check, write a real letter – check, face a fear – check, and the lists go on. Somehow, without really trying, Peace Corps has helped me accomplish a healthy portion of common goals. The past half a year (and really the months of preparation leading up to it) has given me the time to better myself that I would never have had working a 9 to 5 job in the US. This year instead of looking at deficiencies in my life I am happy to instead appreciate my accomplishments thus far. I have finally learned to focus on the check marks rather than the empty boxes.
If there is one lesson I have learned that I can share for the New Year; notice your own envy. When I saw everyone getting jobs after college and settling down with new relationships and apartments it made me more panicked than covetous. Instead, it was the people who had taken a year off, moved to a new country, not worrying about what people expected their career to look like that made that little pang of jealousy resonate. The most telling emotion I have found is the little green flash when you hear good news from someone. What part of what they said appeals to you, and how can you learn from that? So my resolution for this coming year is simple: be jealous. Notice what you are jealous of, congratulate that person, and learn from them. Channeling this emotion has led me to find what makes me truly happy, and appreciating people doing great things rather than resenting them has allowed me to benefit from their success. While you are doing that, help those who have a reason to be envious of you.
While I miss my family and friends at home, I could not be happier to greet 2014 here in Swaziland. So my simple advice for the new year for all of my fellow Americans back home is, if you are feeling a little jealous of those around you as the ball drops, resolve to ask how they do it.
P.S. If you want to ring in the New Year by helping create a library for my grade school to be proud of (and maybe inspire other schools jealousy?), please see the link below. We are raising money to create 30 libraries across Swaziland to promote literacy, English proficiency, and all the wonderful benefits literature has to offer. https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=14-645-001