Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So Risk and Regret Walk Into A Bar....

When most people think about regret, it’s usually not about the stupid things they’ve said, or the questionable things they’ve done (teenage belly button piercing, I’m looking at you). The most difficult regret to make peace with is the regret for the things we did not try, say, or do-the risk we did not take. I’m sure everyone when reading this has one thing that immediately pops into their head. Whether, it’s standing up for yourself to someone, applying for a job, or making a difficult choice even though you knew it was the right one to make.  It’s a huge fear of mine, the non taken risks. I don’t ever want to look back, and think “what if?”  This is a topic I think about often, not because I have all this non-risking regret, but because there are so many things I want to do, and so many things I want to experience. So far I’ve been pretty good about doing them. I wouldn’t say I’m risk-averse, more like risk-prone. I don’t know if I was born this way, or my enormous fear of asking the ever elusive “what if?” has anything to do with it. Nonetheless, my magnetism for risk taking is what it is.  I do have to say that sometimes I question if I’ve pushed myself too much and gone too far. Like one day all the risks that I’ve taken to prevent myself from having regret will back fire and end up turning into regret within itself. I’ll think, “Why didn’t you just stay home and find a proper job? Why didn’t you stop moving around so much and find a nice boy to marry?” Marriage, a stable job, and a permanent address are all risks true, however not necessarily the right ones for me at this point in my life. It definitely would make more sense to my family and friends around me who don’t understand my choice of lifestyle. (No, grandma I’m not trying to put you in an early grave, and yes mom I know you’re not getting any older and would like to have grandchildren one day)  Yes, I might fail and staying home may have been the righter course.  And yes, maybe the certainty of a stable job would be a more appropriate choice for success. But then I remember- nothing is certain and failing is a necessity for growth. Things can fall apart for anyone, anywhere, at any time. And so back I go to my thinking that it’s just better to be my “risk-prone” self, making my “risk-prone” choices. That’s why I’ve decided to move to Spain in the beginning of August. Because I choose risks, and I choose uncertainty, and I choose failure. All while hoping for the occasional triumph and going after the best version of me that’s out there.  

Got A Gut Feeling???

If you have a gut feeling, you sense something about a person or a situation, without knowing why, but you're sure what you sense is true.  Whether it’s something bad or good, you have that sense, and you feel it deep in the pit of your stomach.  “Go with your gut,” is a popular phrase that people use when trying to figure out what to do. They say this because that gut feeling in the pit of your stomach is like a kind of sixth sense, an intuitive sixth sense that can’t steer you wrong. I know this to be true, and I know that most people believe this too. Then why is it so hard for some people to “go with their gut”? Is it because of fear? Or are they just so wrapped up in the hard facts, and things that they can see plain out? What type of person are you? Do you follow your intuitive sixth sense, or do you do everything in your power to work out the situation with common sense? 

                I re-made my blog from what it was when I first joined the Peace Corps to what it is now. I re-made it stating that I wanted to write about the happiness of being in Samoa rather than the hardships. I was so gun-ho on doing everything in my power to look at the positives and not dwell on the negatives. And that’s where I think I made the mistake. My first year, I was so far on the negative side of the spectrum it was hurting me. I decided the only way I was going to survive was to change, and make my second year more on the positive side. But then it turned into being so far on the positive side that it too was hurting me. And here’s what I learned... too much of one thing and one way of thinking is neither good nor realistic. In the end, you lose focus and can’t see what’s good for you anymore.  The truth is I was living in hell, and no matter which way I spun it, and no matter how hard I tried to find something positive about my situation, it was still a hot, horrible, hell. So then why even when I knew that I was living in hell, didn’t I do what I needed to do- do what was in my gut?  Let me tell you a bit about the hell I was under just so you have a better idea. My first year I lived in a small house with another Peace Corps Volunteer, Jenny, who’s village was next to mine.  Normally, Peace Corps does not allow for volunteers to live together, however because the house I was moving into wasn’t the safest PC thought it would be best if another volunteer lived there as well.  The house had its problems just like any other volunteers’. Of course we had bugs and rats, but they just mostly stayed in the kitchen which I just learned to live with. However, during that time Jenny and I had to deal with some bigger problems. For example, men were trying to break in, in the middle of the night, men were looking through our bedroom windows, and people were stealing things from outside our house.  Again, it was easier to live with because Jenny and I had each other, and we felt safe since it was the two of us.  However, when December came Jenny finished her service. So when I came back from Christmas break, I was coming back to the house alone. Truthfully I thought I would be fine. I had been living in my village for over a year and I knew most of the people.  However it wasn’t fine.  When I came home from Christmas break I came home to a huge hole in my ceiling from where someone broke in. About once or twice a week I had guys outside my house. The rats were no longer staying in JUST the kitchen, but rather my bedroom as well (I thought we had unspoken rule about that, but apparently not).  I woke up to a rat LITERALLY next to my head in my bed. That was the first time, it happened two more times after that.  It got so bad I wasn’t sleeping. I was so afraid of what was not only inside my house, but what was outside as well.  Looking back now I knew what the answer was to my problem deep down, but for some reason I was doing everything else instead. It was like I had this band-aid on and I was pulling it off and then re-applying it back on.   I went to the office numerous times seeing if they could help me find a solution.  They built me a better front door; I got outside lights installed, and was given a blow horn. (Didn’t do much)For awhile my principal stayed with me. When that wasn’t working I stayed with her at her house for awhile. I tried poison after poison, traps after traps. Nothing was working. It took a friend coming to stay with me for the night, and experience what I had been going through for months for it to hit me. She said that in all of her time in Samoa she had never experienced a night like that. That it was NOT OKAY the way I was living. I asked her what I should do. She gave me some ideas, her opinions. I was clearly torn, and she said, “What does your gut tell you?” My gut was not telling me, it was screaming at me to go home. As soon as I realized that, it was like everything made sense. My answer was there, and I knew what I had to do. So I went with my gut, and decided to take an ‘Interruption of Service’.  Sure I still had thoughts of, “Is this really what I should do? Maybe there is another solution?” But deep down in the pit of my stomach I knew the answer was no, I knew that I needed to come home.  So then why did I not follow my instinct earlier!? It could have saved me so much misery, and sleepless nights.   Truth be told I don’t know why I didn’t make this decision earlier. Maybe it was my pride, my stubbornness, or my undying determination to follow my new goal of “positivity”.  Whichever the case it kept me from doing what I should have done.  And as I sit here in my nice comfy room in the U.S (rat less, and creeper less) I know I made the right decision.  

So the next time you get that gut feeling remember it’s there for a reason. Believe in your intuition and have a little faith. And just maybe you’ll end up in a nice comfy place knowing you made the right decision too.