A year is a long time. Things and people change and if I said my first year was easy I would be lying. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like a more me myself looking back on the first year. So what I want to talk about is how I’ve changed in a year and what’s different some of them big and some of them little but still a change.
Being bossy vs. Being a boss- Alright. I’ve always been a little bossy. That’s just the reality of it. But there’s a difference between being bossy and being a boss. For example, I remember feeling so intimidated by taxi drivers at first, they’re aggressive and they try to rip you off. Now they’re my bread and butter. I DARE a taxi driver to try and treat me like a tourist. This also effects the way I work and they way I’ve worked at school and in business in general. I talked about the difference between saying yes to everything and saying yes to the things that matter. While I still have too full of a place pretty much always I’m definitely better at saying no. There are some people I can’t help, or if people aren’t gonna put in the effort that I’m putting in then they aren’t worth it. I have other people that need me more and are willing to put in the work and the time. I’m willing to give everyone a chance but I’m not going to put people who aren’t going to work before those who understand dedication and genuinely want my help.
Speaking Kyrgyz- Uh I can fucking do it now.
Not caring what people think- This is another thing. It’s not like I’ve really ever cared what people think. I wear black lipstick a majority of the time, so I’m clearly not TOO worried about what other people got going on. But living in a culture that’s collectivist has been a huge adjustment. Living in a community where it’s for the good of the group and not just for the good of me has been hard. So sometimes I make choices or when I say no to things that’s perceived in the wrong way. Yeah people get mad but I can’t do anything about that. I work with three main organizations and I think they pretty much think when I’m not working with one of them I have all kinds of free time, they don’t quite understand that when I leave school I have two other jobs to go to. So balancing those three main projects and having to deal with “all my free time” has been a struggle. While there are people who know and understand my work schedule there are people who just do no and they may think I’m lazy because I don’t want to drink tea with them but I’ve got other stuff to do and that’s just how it is.
Being pushy- This is kind of like being bossy but in a different way. In Kyrgyzstan lines aren’t really a thing. So if you need something you gotta elbow your way to the front and ask for it and make it known what you need. This was hard for me at first. I definitely didn’t like it and I felt uncomfortable and like I was being rude, because in America this would be SUPER rude. But here, it’s the norm. So I’ve gotten good at showing up to the bazaar and getting to the front to get what I need from the ladies at the store and not worrying about if I’m being rude or not. This is a skill I’ll need to get rid of but for now it’s working for me.
Putting myself first- I’m horrible at this. I would rather make sure that my friends are taken care of before me, it’s just how I am. It’s the same with work and like I said saying no, I would rather say yes to everything but I’ve realized in the last couple weeks that I am feeling run down. So the summer and year two will be different. I’m making better schedules and just making sure that I get some me time instead of no time at all.
Cooking- I love to cook. Always have. I however am a lazy cook. If I come home and it’s just me I’m more likely to just make some ramen and call it a day. But I’ve been trying to make more of an effort lately when it’s just me. I’m happier when I take the time to do things that make me happy like this for example and i think especially come winter when it’ll be miserable again I’ll be happier because of this.
Keeping in touch- I am and still continue to be horrible at this BUT I’m getting better. I have lots of different friend groups from different stages of life and I am not the best at keeping in touch. I still have a special place for all of these important people in my life but I don’t always show it. I think living on the other side of the world definitely helps and I think blogging helps too because people can read about what I’m up to and then that opens up a dialect. I also try to pay more attention to what people have going on since I’m not there to be a part of it in person.
Staring- So I hate being stared at. Always have. Always will. Here it is unavoidable. I used to really hate it when we first got to country and would avoid eye contact and just deal with it. Not so much anymore. I’m more likely to stare back now until they look away or ask what they’re looking at. Because I’m over it. A year of being stared at or laughed at for speaking Kyrgyz is enough. So I will call someone out who laughs at my speaking Kyrgyz or who stares at me on the street or in cafe or the bazaar.
Being more patient- I have a grand total of zero patience and it’s probably my worst quality. But it’s something I try to be better with every single day. Both patient when I get pushed to the back of the line waiting for a marsh or when I’m trying to explain something in English to my students or working with locals on projects it’s something that I work on. I’m here to help my community and I can only do that by being patient. Letting them tell me their visions and what they want and need and how I can help them. Sometimes those ideas change once a week or once an hour and I have to understand that. Normally this would drive me crazy but I’m getting better and letting those things go and adapting to the culture around me.
Being gross- Yep. This happens. Sometimes showers don’t happen or gross outhouses happen. But that’s how it is and I make it work. I rely HEAVILY on dry shampoo and perfume and Febreeze and we make it through the day.
Not giving a fuck- This country requires that. Being a Peace Corps volunteer requires that. Things will not go your way. They won’t go in any way that you want or expect them to but they’ll still happen and you have to deal with it no matter what. So being adaptable and not letting the little day to day things wear too heavily on you. I definitely was affected by the little things entirely too much in the beginning of my service and it stressed me out and definitely wore me down. Being pushed around at work, at home and by Kyrgyzstan in general and I’ve definitely learned to start pushing back. That’s something that I’m still working on but getting better at as I go. But I feel like that kind of encompasses all of the changes as a whole.
Living in a new country and on a different continent and side of the world definitely changes you and definitely in ways that you wouldn’t expect. While some of the changes aren’t necessarily positive as a whole, I’m definitely more cynical than I was when I started but it’s changes and things that help me in my day to day. There’s definitely been a toughening of skin and that’s something this country requires. When men yell at you on the street that they want to kidnap you, you tend to toughen up just a little. I think I’m better in general at the relationships that I have and understanding which people to keep around and which ones maybe aren’t the best. Just in general learning about the kind of person that I am. You can think you’re one way your whole life and then realize that you are very much not that way and I’m glad that I’m learning about that at this point in my life rather than too late down the line. I’m forever grateful for this opportunity and this country and what it teaches me every day. I’m thankful for the relationships I have in country with both fellow volunteers and my local friends and I can’t imagine my life without some of these people now and hopefully I won’t ever have to. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is what I should be doing and I’m excited for the second half of my service.