Pictures from Senegal

Wednesday, October 27

Age

Just how old am I? I realize that I wrote to you the events of my 27th birthday, but to be honest I don’t feel like I’ve been acting my age lately. Like taking a back seat to the person I used to be in order to retrace my footsteps and start again at the semi-naïve college graduate phase of my life. This here Peace Corps experience is making me reevaluate almost everything I thought I had figured out. Just how do I conduct myself on a daily basis?

Let’s explore the finances. I’ve been making excuses for the spending of my meager allowance. I’m not living beyond my means in anyway, and I’m not short of cash, but I have noticed a lack in the guardianship of my monthly installment to the savings envelope (yes, envelope- things are a bit “under the mattress” here). A few months have passed and it just doesn’t seem to bother me. My excuse is that I’d rather buy a cold soda or some tasty fruit than save for a rainy day. I rationalize that the rainy season is over and a stock pile already exists. And given that, I’m much better off being as happy as I can be here than a few bucks better off when I get back at home, right? Aren’t I preventing myself from procrastinating later if I have that “rainy day” fund? I’ll be trying that much harder to find my next adventure (read: job) without that bloated account to depend on.

Don’t feel bad if you just rolled your eyes because I'm not really sure believe that myself. I keep going like this and before you know I’ll be looking around thinking, “Whatever happened to that retirement fund I was going to start???”

Another example would be my ‘stay up all night’ attitude when it comes to spending time with other PCVs. I could make excuses and tell you it’s because the extreme heat would keep me awake anyway, but I know that’s only a partial truth. The whole truth would be the heat plus my desires to spend time with English speaking friends, eat good food, relax, and enjoy myself. Self control, why are we always battling? But seriously, I’ve spent 3 nights in Dakar doing nothing of real significance during the day and staying up, if not all-night long, damn near close to it. And when I’m back in Mboro desperately fighting off yet another horrendous cold, I’m again thinking, “What happened to my internal alarm clock that tells me when fun time is up and rational bed time has come?”

Next admission: I’m a try everything once kind of girl… but there is a heck of a lot of things to try in the land of completely different. I’ve always been a believer in the “try everything once” theory, but I fear that’s my latest excuse to do whatever sounds like the best adventure, regardless of the risk. Example: Chatting up some cute French guys (just to prove the point that I could) only to spend the rest of the night actually having to talk to them. Another: when I spent hours walking down the beach, risking serious dehydration, to find the village of a scholarship girl even though everyone told me to take the taxi. Clearly I won’t be forgetting these and other adventures any time soon, but I question their necessity. So, I’m not my usual guarded self; I’m out there doing and trying everything.

It has also occurred to me that there have been a number of entries in my über-cute leather bound journal about this or that feeling that seem to be too vague. The entries are vague in that I am writing with the hope of figuring out just exactly how I feel about this or that new experience, but can’t seem to formulate a concrete opinion. I’d love to share some examples, but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of having a separate journal? Just trust me when I say it can be a confusing read. Especially when I sit there thinking, “I have some good points. Too bad there’s no definite conclusion and each entry seems to contradict the last.” Don’t let it be said that I wasn’t a good devil’s advocate.

Have I really regressed in my adult ways? Where there used to be a solid minded saver, there is a ‘live in the moment’ kind of girl. Where there used to be a sensible woman who knew exactly how much sleep she needed to properly function, there is a girl who shrugs with the impression she can make up for it later. But can you really sleep when you’re dead? Is it ok to view sleep like a savings account? And a savings account is meant to be contributed to, not ignored correct? Most important question of all: I ever be able to make up my mind again?

On the other hand, perhaps it’s a good move to stop and question things from time to time. I mean, that is one of the reasons I came out here: to stop taking everything associated with the American way of life for granted. I guess “for granted” could be applied to my concept of the perfect night’s sleep, a sensible savings plan, adventure and the term “inquisitive.” And with that, I change my mind once again and say maybe I am acting my age… I’m just adult enough to realize nothing is set in stone.

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