Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, August 1

Going Somewhere?

It feels like every day I’m here I get farther away from a clear picture of what I want to do when I grow up. Like I’m in a tunnel, but instead of moving forward, I’m being pulled backward and the light at the end is getting smaller and smaller. In my mind, this light is a clear representation of exactly who I will be, what I will do, and where I will live. Truthfully, I’ve never really known with absolute certainty what I want. I envy my friends with conviction; director, lawyer, pilot. I dread the job interview question asking where I see myself in 5 or 10 years. If you asked me today what I want to do at the end of my PC service, the only sure thing I could tell you is “be happy.”

I know I talked a while back about joining the Foreign Service, hell I took the test, but then I started to reconsider. For starters, it would derail the next few months of my service. Writing entrance essays, preparing for upcoming testing phases, finding the means to get to DC for said phases… I see this being very distracting. I truly want to be an excellent volunteer; to make a difference. And deep down, I know that won’t be possible if I’m distracted by the next phase of my life approaching so quickly and demanding such focus and attentiveness. So I started to think I should’ve waited until next year to take the test. I don’t know if I’m unlucky or lucky, if it’s fate or just chance… but I didn’t score high enough to pass the Foreign Service test.

And then this spiraled out of control. I got to thinking; yes, I do want to spend a good portion of my life as an expat. But I’ve been lazy about it. I find the prepackaged ways of going about it: study abroad where they arrange school and housing; Peace Corps that assigns you a job and a country. I find the options where I already have a reason to get a visa, already have a place to stay worked out, as well as something to do. Isn’t the whole point of being a world traveler the adventure in roaming about doing your own thing and experiencing the unknown? Why then am I being so careful, so lazy, so cookie cutter about it? I shouldn’t get a job with the State Department where they organize jobs, countries, and housing. I should pick a place and go. Figure things out for myself.

So then what? Where? I’ve considered moving to France to work on my language. Should I learn another language? I might be getting the hang of it. I’ve considered various locations throughout the US. I could stay in Africa. Then again there are 2 continents I’ve yet to touch down on. I could live in a big city and use public transportation. I could find a quiet little town and make a difference. I’ve thought about jobs in writing, marketing or purchasing. Can I get job as a professional planner? I think I’m good at that (current topic excluded). Charles thinks I’d make a great VP in his future company. Is it possible to do it all? For the first time in a while, possibly ever, I feel like I can honestly do anything. There are so many paths opening up in front of me. Can I move to a bubble on the moon?

So one thing is clear, I can’t answer this question today. There’s a chance that “when I grow up” may never come to pass. I could very well be one of those people who never knows what the future brings, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have a really great story about something that’s happened in my past. I will be a child of the world. I will be happy.


  1. Hi Alys, I feel you with the interview question: personally I find scary people who know exactly what they want to be. There are so many chances, or possibly misfortunes on the way - I rather keep my mind and options open.

    I wouldn't mind a chat with you when you return to Mboro, or maybe an after-work drink (still something I have not done here... :))

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