My four year old nephew, Isaiah, is in pre-k and working on his numbers. He’s also been asking a lot of questions about death lately. He asks, “how old is grandma? how old are people when they die?
It’s interesting to see that he’s nervous and trying to figure out this concept of death. I remember being a kid and having those same fears. It was hard to comprehend that everything I once knew would come to an end.
I’ve been thinking about my fears lately… as I child, I remember being so afraid of death, as Isaiah is now. As a quasi-adult… death is no longer a big fear. The fears that give me the most anxiety now is the thought of living a fucking mundane life. My greatest fear is living a life that is inconsequential. I sometimes think, what if… something were to happen to me tomorrow?…. And I honestly feel at peace knowing that I experienced some amazing things. I feel at peace knowing that I saw corners of the world some only imagine or hear about in passing. I feel good knowing that I lived more in those 27 months, than some people live in their whole lives. I feel good about the time I spent in Africa and I have a burning desire to keep traveling and see more of the world. The fear of settling and staying at a cozy federal job because of the promise of a pension does eat at me from time to time. I enjoy what I’m doing now but I don’t see myself in the states in the long term.
My dream is to one day return to live in my homeland,… a la ciudad de México. I feel a strong longing for something I have yet to know. I feel something pulling me home. And everything feels so temporary in between. I have new dreams, new goals- I want to return home and be a home-owner and business-owner (eventually). I want to work in Latin America and I want to do it on my own terms.
Part of me feels this guilt … my life is not going exactly in the direction that I envisioned straight out of undergrad. I admit I joined Peace Corps because I had a desire to apply to Grad School and knew that real world experience was going to make or break my application (also- I was always fascinated by the idea of traveling, working and living abroad). After living and working in the developing world, I re-examined my desire to go into a Development program. I would love to go back to school and keep learning. I miss being intellectually challenged. Having intellectually stimulating conversations and reading works that open my eyes to the world. However, the cost of an advanced degree is seriously daunting. On top of that, I have other reservations about development work after having done some grass-roots work.
I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that your goals can evolve with time. Its tough to explain that to people… but, as some very insightful friends have told me “fuck explaining yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy.” (thanks, Auntie Norma/Asianator)
I have these fears. This sense of guilt that nudges me from time to time, “did I give up on my dream?” … And then I remember, my life is not over. Why do we box ourselves into these titles. Things in the states seem so engrained and so rigid. It’s hard to imagine making big changes after you’re settled in a nice-paying job and have racked up several financial responsibilities. I remember being in Mozambique and struggling with day-to-day chores… thinking, “life in America is going to be so easy. Nothing will phase me.”
I have to keep this mentality alive. This mentality that tells me that I can lead the life I want. That all you need is the courage to make changes. That your fears don’t define you, but instead- challenge you to live the life you really envision.