Sometimes I forget that I ever went on the World Race, while other times I’m left wondering how it ever came to an end. Two months ago I was in Thailand, having a memorial service on the beach and hanging out with ladyboys all night long.
I can still remember all the little details that I’m sure one day I’ll forget: Emily sleeping next to me and Holland sleeping above me, eating an apple for breakfast every morning and rice with that overwhelming garlic for lunch and a tuna sandwich for dinner, splitting a Diet Coke with Mel each time we went to the bars, not sleeping well at night and being so tired during the days, the rain, the cold showers, worshiping for an hour every night, the day 18 of us smashed together in the back of the truck to go see the Big Buddha…there’s so much more, and that was just the last month.
I remember so well all the emotions I felt, which mainly consisted of a mixture of sadness and excitement about the future, and a mixture of anxiety and relief to finally talk to that one boy. It was very overwhelming.
My whole world was going to change drastically in the course of a day, and I knew that but I didn’t know exactly how to prepare myself.
I’m coming to understand there are some things in life for which you can’t prepare yourself (everyone else probably figured this out already…cool). Before I went to India I knew I would experience loneliness, but that didn’t make it any easier when I was crying myself to sleep in Kolkata. If anything, it made it worse because I thought I had been prepared, but I wasn’t.
I think I’ve realized that I put a lot of pressure on myself to “get over” and move on from the World Race as soon as I got home. So many people on my squad were checked out, and they had been for a while – it seemed they wanted nothing else to do with the World Race or the experience they just had. I imagined our final debrief would be spent enjoying our last few moments together, and that did happen to an extent, but mostly I felt a suffocating energy from people who were focused on going home.
Like I said, since coming home I’ve put this pressure on myself to be like other people from my squad, because I guess I wanted to be normal like everyone else. But I’m not normal. I’m a little crazy, to be honest. Before I left for Nashville I was having a lot of anxiety…
For a year I was a part of this big thing, and everyone around me was a part of it too. I lived through the World Race with a constant sense of urgency – there was a time limit, and I wanted to make the most out of the time I was given. Everything was about striving for more of God, going deeper in community, serving better, being humbled, being bold, speaking life, believing in big things, seeing crazy things…it’s not that I’ve stopped seeking after all these things, it’s that now I’m more or less going for these things alone. My squad, my team, my community has dispersed around America and I’m left praying for another one. The only problem is that starting over makes me feel tired – it took so long and so much energy for my team to make it to the place we did, and even though I know it’s worth it, right now I’d rather hide in a corner in my room than to start all over again.
I didn’t want to admit all this to people because I didn’t want to be the weirdo who couldn’t adapt to American life after the World Race. No one wants to be that person.
I was going to go to a counselor (on top of the family counseling I’m already attending – I told you I’m crazy), but my mom said she would either pay for counseling or the parasite kit, and let’s be honest, I chose the parasite kit. I guess I’d rather be going crazy in my mind than in my intestines. Besides, I read an article about anxiety in Glamour yesterday, so I decided that can be equivalent to going to a counselor. Glamour is my counselor, cute.
[side note – the article mentioned that women these days have much more anxiety than ever before because of the impossible physical image we are told we can and should obtain by the media…and then you flip the page and there’s all these advertisements for clothes and beauty products and weight loss, lol. Actually it’s not funny.]
Anyway. This past week I forgot I went on the World Race, probably because I was so busy. But last night, after everything slowed down, I remembered. I think it’s hard right now because I’m not a part of anything. Compared to this past year, my life is aimless. I mean, my aim right now is to see all the people I missed so dearly, but that’s not a part of a bigger picture. The bigger picture I’m aiming toward is Teach for America, but right now that’s not in my control. Getting a job in Columbus is out of my control (I mean, I can apply all I want but ultimately the decision is in someone else’s hands). My family problems are out of my control. All of my closest friends being married or engaged or in relationships is out of my control. Ahhh it’s all about control. I just want it and God is teaching me, again, to LET IT GO.
When I was driving home from Nashville the other day I thought about how I could control pretty much everything in that moment. If I had to pee, I could pull over. If I wanted to eat, I could stop and buy something. If I wanted to walk around, I could do that. If I wanted to drive faster, all I had to do was press a little harder on the pedal. If I wanted a colder temperature in the car, I just had to move a notch. This was not my life on the World Race. In Africa and Asia we would be trapped on buses for hours – sweating and hungry and having to pee never knowing when or if we would stop, and if we got off would we be left behind? Nothing was in my control and it drove me crazy. But now that I think about it, it was also peaceful, in a way. Things were out of my control, so there was nothing I could do but sit back and enjoy the ride. It was like this in nearly every aspect for most of the year.
Blah blah blah I’ve really started to ramble. But it feels good. I just needed to get off my chest that I’m crazy and apparently a control freak.
Last night I coped by eating a mug of ice-cream and watching About a Boy. It was a good time.