Monday, October 08, 2007

Can I start over again?

I wish I could do the last 8 months over again. There are so many things I wish I could have done differently since coming back from Africa. I thought that I was doing great with culture shock, since I’m now very comfortable both there and here. My identity is well established and carries parts of here and there. Moving back and forth between the two is not much different than moving back and forth between two homes. So, I do fine with the cultural adjustments. What I did not do fine with was reentering relationships. I never really reconnected with friends after coming back. So, if you’ve felt like you’ve lost me in the last year, that’s why. But I’m still here. Email me. Call me. I’ve never been a good initiator, and I don’t even know where to begin now that I’ve been so disconnected for so long.

As mentioned in today’s other post, I’m still not done with my thesis. I thought that I would come home, work on it full time and get it done in a few months. No big deal, right? Ha! Well, I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself, how I work and what I need in order to function, let alone thrive. Here’s what I need: people time, changing environments, several different things to focus on (but not too many!), a routine with some external structure. What I’ve had: exactly the opposite – a lot of time all by myself, at home by myself a LOT, not enough different things to do, the responsibility of planning and scheduling every minute of every day with no one, ever, to tell me what to do/where to be when. Definitely wasn’t working for me. I know that I often cannot change my circumstances. But knowing what I need means that as much as I can control certain circumstances, I need to work as hard as I can to make those circumstances into those that work for me. Some days I do pretty well and some days not so much. Today is one of those not so much days. I got some good things done this morning, but then I got off track and haven’t seemed to manage to get back on. I think it’s time for a day out of the house. I’m going to go to campus tomorrow to work there and go to the Swahili table for lunch.

One of the reasons I kept working at home was that it cost roughly $10 in gas every time I went to campus to work. But, if I had gone to campus more often, I really think I would be done by now. I’m amazed how much I’m affected by places, or maybe rather my connection to places. I was on campus a couple months ago, after not having been there for awhile, and it was like something in me opened up again. I found myself thinking, “Oh yeah! This is that place where I read and write and engage intellectually. And I like it.” It was as if that part of me had gotten lost or shut off. I came home from campus ready to go again. I find that I’m a lot more affected by places, circumstances, relationships than I wish I could be. Sometimes it would be so much easier if I didn’t engage myself so much mentally and emotionally in things. But part of my journey this year has been learning who I am and accepting myself as I am, instead of wishing I could have the strengths of other people. This is who I am and I’m trying to learn to make it work for me, not against me. The things that make me feel weak and inadequate sometimes are the same strengths I see other times.

So, it’s been a journey. Hopefully I’m stronger for it. I really have learned a lot. But I’ve still got to get that blasted thesis done… ☺


Mark and Courtney said...

Sarah, I totally understand what you're going through. Leaving MSU and trying to write up down here was VERY hard for me (which is why it took so long--working full-time didn't help either). It definitely would have gone faster if I'd been able to get to campus at least periodically, but I didn't go back until I defended. It will be over eventually, and you can do. Try to set aside one hour every day to work on it. It sounds like too little, but you'd be amazed what one hour of focus every day will accomplish for you.

Sarah said...

I'm feeling the same way, Sarah, about being back in the's not been super rough, but it's not been great either. I don't like who I am here. I am looking for a job and my schedule is super unstructured and I'm home by myself all the time, and it gets me depressed. I hope it helps to hear you're not alone. Sometimes we just have to do things we really would rather not do, eti?