A year ago around this time I was submitting my application to the Peace Corps. I didn’t really know much about the Peace Corps, to be honest. But I knew it was something I wanted to do, I wanted to work in a way that is led by passion to help; in a way that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Less than a month after submitting the application I got an email to schedule an interview, I decided to schedule it on my cousins birthday (which was just 10 days away) as good luck. I was so nervous before the interview. I wore a yellow button down shirt and did my hair nice and actually put on makeup, little did I know Skype wouldn’t work and it’d be a phone interview. After sweating through my cute pale yellow button down, I got on the phone with Justin, my interviewer. After the initial question of, “So tell me why you want to join to Peace Corps?” I gave my rehearsed and polished answer that my sister and I practiced together —this time without any giggles. Once I gave that answer and the actual interview started, all my nerves left. This was a real human on the other side of the phone (not sure what else I was expecting), someone who sounds really chill who I’d love to kick it with and he was so honest. He opened up about his own time serving as a volunteer and our interview turned into a conversation; both of us asking questions to each other. After the interview I felt really confident that I either did amazing or that I completely blew it by being too casual; I had no idea. Four days later, I was at work in my friends office and he was asking me about the interview and how it went. I just got done telling him that I had no idea and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. For some reason I decided to check my email in the middle of telling him this just by chance the Peace Corps emailed me. I froze mid sentence… they DID email me. I GOT IN! I was still in shock and barely had a reaction until he said “Holy shit! Congrats! You’re going to Fiji!” I really just couldn’t believe it. After calling my parents to tell them the news, I walked over to my boyfriends dads office to tell him and after he said congrats he jokingly asked, “So are you going to just let your underarm and leg hair grow?” I don’t remember what I said but to finally answer the question, I haven’t shaved my legs in 2 months and no plans to until I’m home. Hehe.
Now that I accepted the invitation to join the Peace Corps fam, I had a few hoops to jump through with medical and legal clearances. Which is all pretty boring so I’ll jump to the fun things. I created a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do before leaving, like lounge in a hot spring, watch every single that 70s show and Seinfeld episode (not knowing that I could watch them here too), visit Red Rocks, and kiss an elephant. The only thing I did on my list was visit Red Rocks (which is super beautiful and amazing and Tom Petty #RIP performed there last summer), but something more magical than checking things off a bucket list happened.
I wanted to make the most out of the months leading up to leaving for Fiji. And I sure feel like I did, I travelled more than I have in my life and enjoyed life the way I think it’s supposed to be enjoyed. Every month I was in a new state, but really it was the time spent with the people I was traveling with that I enjoyed the most.
I don’t want to say a corny New Years cliche that I’d roll my eyes at, so I won’t say that 2017 was the happiest year of my life. It was a very happy year, and I like to view it as the beginning of the happiest years of my life. Something shifted with my mindset this year, I don’t know exactly what or I don’t know how to explain it. But to put it simple, I feel genuinely happy and I feel so grateful for the people I have in my life. I valued play/rest over work. I always thought that working hard was the key to success, that’s just something that society teaches us. But success looks different for everyone. Success to me, isn’t having a million dollars. Success to me is being surrounded by my family and friends kickin’ it and laughing with each other. Success is falling asleep with my cat laying on my chest as I’m petting him with one hand and petting my dog with the other. It’s being able to go on a walk with a friend and do yoga poses and talk about our astrological signs. It’s going to the farmers market and buying eggplant for $2 and making eggplant parm for friends. It’s going on weekend trips with Tyler and trying all sorts of new food. It’s giving without having any intentions of getting anything in return. Success is being happy. And being happy looks different on everyone, but it looks amazing on everyone. In my last months in America that’s exactly what I did, in a way I felt like I was living as if I was about to die. And some people treated me that way too. It was kind of a strange thing to think about, but shouldn’t we all be living like we’re going to die? I mean, we all will one day so why not start living like it?
I see that in the kids in Fiji. Well, something similar. They don’t dwell because they don’t have the newest video game or the hottest clothes or whatever the new thing is of the season. Most aren’t getting any Christmas presents at all but when I ask them if they’re excited about Christmas their faces light up and say yes! … Because they get to see their cousins and aunts and uncles who they haven’t seen in a while. They’ll be feasting, relaxing, dancing, celebrating, and laughing with their family and friends. I think all too often people forget what’s most important; relationships, love, laughter, self love. The most important things in life are right in front of you; once you set your phone/tablet/computer down that is. ;P
This Christmas I’ll be spending it with a teacher and her family, I’m excited to be invited into their family and spend Christmas with them. I am a foreign stranger whose family is on the other side of the world and I was so lovingly invited into their home for Christmas. How amazing is that? Like really, think about it. I think we can all learn something really important from that.
When I first started writing this post I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it, so here it is; a grateful start to the new year and a feeling of appreciation for all the people who help guide me in this game of life.
With so much love, XOXO
Wishing you a very happy holiday and happy New Years!