Well folks, I have reached a milestone in both my Peace Corps service and life in general. What momentous occasion have I grasped you ask? I’ll give you three guesses…
“Is it baking your own bread?”
- I wish! I miss good bread, like sourdough, rye, honey wheat… but I digress.
“Is it fluently speaking your local language?”
- AAYE! Andi popi oshikwanyama kashona KASHONA. (NO! Me, I speak small SMALL Oshikwanyma.)
“Is it avoiding being proposed to in almost every taxi you take?”
- NOPE! (Still working on perfecting my “stink” face.)
I’m still working on those things. So what is my grand feat? Being away from home for a whole year! Now, some of you might think: “One year? Is that really all that long?” or “I lived away from ‘home’ longer than that in university…”
For me, one year is the longest I’ve ever been away from my small town on the edge of Los Angeles County. I went to university only a 13-minute (read: 20 minutes following all the posted speed limits) drive from the house I grew up in. I was lucky to not move around, to grow up with neighbors I knew and think of like extended family, and see celebrities on the regular. (Definitely joking on that last one… for the most part.)
The first time I moved was during my last year of university when I moved to the next town over to live with best friends in a house. (Commute to school increased from 13 to 15 minutes without traffic, in the carpool lane. #LATraffic) I was still so close to home that it barely seemed like “moving” when I could still visit when I wanted and do grocery shopping with my mama.
The first “real” time I moved was when I left for Peace Corps Sierra Leone in June 2014. I packed up my duffle bag, travel backpack and day pack to move away from home for two years (and by “packed,” I mean “stuffed as full as the zippers would allow them to be stuffed and not burst open in transit”). As I waved goodbye to my family and boarded the plane, it occurred to me that I was going to a bit of an extreme for moving away for the first time. I wasn’t changing zip codes or moving states. I was moving continents, to a new country code! While the thought scared me, I knew it was the right thing for me. Peace Corps was my dream, it was time for me to branch out and see the world. Due to unfortunate circumstances my move only lasted two months, but it was enough to know I wanted to keep “moving.”
Fast forward to one year ago and I was doing it again. Leaving behind my safe place, my neighborhood, and my family to move to the African continent again. (It was not any easier the second time around.) Here I am today, not just surviving but thriving through my move to Namibia. Through coming to Namibia, I have challenged myself to do something different, to live outside of contentment, and to become more comfortable with being a mover. So, today I’m gonna celebrate my milestone of moving and living away from home for a year! (At least until this time next year, when I’ll have been away for two years.)
One year away from family gatherings, holidays, birthdays and celebrations.
One year with an amazing group of change makers in Namibia that have become my Namily.
One year not being able to drive myself to the grocery store.
One year of getting in better shape by carrying all my groceries on my back from the road.
One year sans Chipotle, In-N-Out and Donut Man.
One year of eating healthier-ish. (PB and Nutella sandwiches are healthy, right?)
Moving is not just about moving physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Moving allows you to challenge yourself and go outside your comfort zone. Moving lets you find the best/worst parts of yourself and learn to love who you are. Moving permits you to grow into your best being. This year has helped me to embrace being a “mover” and I can’t wait to see where my moving takes me in the future.