Tag Archives: Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean

100 Things I’ve Learned in My First Quarter Century

The Blank Slate

The Blank Slate

In view of my 25th birthday, I would like to share this list. I have learned many things in these last 25 years, but here is a sampling. I have made the text green to highlight the things I have learned as a direct result of being in the Peace Corps.

(In no particular order)

  1. Trying might get you results. Doing always will. There’s a big difference between committing to try and just committing.
  2. Cats are not trustworthy, and you should never put too much faith in them.
  3. Dogs are actual higher beings, and you can always put your faith in them.
  4. People are only as great and only as bad as you let them be.
  5. The world is not a good place, and the world is not a bad place. It’s just a place.
  6. The biggest advantage your parents can give you in early life is by reading to you every night.
  7. Do not eat an entire pizza. No good has ever come of that.
  8. Being tough and showing weakness are not mutually exclusive.
  9. The more you worry about losing something, the more likely you are to lose it.
  10. I am not my hair. I am not my face. I am not my meat suit. I do not need to love any of these things because I love my mind, and that’s enough.
  11. Rats make really decent pets.
  12. Men are nice, but not necessary.
  13. You get more out of loving your friends than they do.
  14. FLOSS
  15. I forget almost everything that goes through my brain, unless I write it down.
  16. Drink at least 3 liters of water every day. Just do it.
  17. Self-interest is not a bad thing, unless you act like it doesn’t exist.
  18. Buying something for yourself always feels better than having it given to you. Unless the something is flowers.
  19. Bean and cheese burritos are the perfect food.
  20. You can’t force your values on someone else. Even if their values are stupid. You have to trick them.
  21. Pair all your clothing bottoms with a top and hang the outfits up in your closet. Wear them in order. After you wear each outfit, switch out the top with a spare that hasn’t been paired yet and put that outfit in the back of the line. Wash as needed, but try to keep them in order. Seriously, since I started doing this, I have never had to pick an outfit in the morning, and all my clothes get worn evenly. I pretty much wear a different outfit every day of the month.
  22. If you really want to get stuff done, especially over time, keep a bullet journal. Seriously.
  23. Not everything you learned in school is true.
  24. It’s your job to find the truth.
  25. To quote Carl Sagan, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”
  26. Wear comfortable shoes to Disneyland.
  27. Never let anyone force you to sing. It will not go well.
  28. It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself, but you get 3 days max. Then, you have to go for a run, have a nice lunch, and realize that shit is still pretty good.
  29. If a cat is all you have available, I guess you can use it as a surrogate dog.
  30. I can’t do math without a calculator.
  31. Read books in different genres, don’t get stuck, or worse, not read at all.
  32. There is not a single redeeming quality to mosquitos.
  33. The universe is so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much bigger than me.
  34. In the scheme of things, I don’t really know anything at all.
  35. A sincere apology is the hardest thing and the best thing for any relationship.
  36. Red wine is alcohol in its best form.
  37. A Stone IPA is alcohol in its second best form.
  38. Tequila is alcohol in its third best form.
  39. Reading the world news every day will make you sad, but you have to do it.
  40. It’s never too early to save for retirement.
  41. Living abroad is not as glamorous as you would hope, but you’ll learn way more about the world than you anticipate.
  42. There is no better fruit than a fresh mango.
  43. Poop before you run.
  44. A pedicure is a better investment than a manicure.
  45. Bats are not considerate roommates.
  46. Your friends will drive you crazy and do things that are not in their best interest. You do not need to tell them this if you’re not getting hurt by it.
  47. The flu shot is BS. It’s good to keep your immune system on its toes. (I am not a doctor)
  48. Split pea is the king of soups.
  49. Everyone should have to spend a year teaching little kids before they actually have a kid.
  50. People are not “equal”. It has nothing to do with race, gender, nationality, physical ability, sexuality, etc. Some people just suck. You can have everything and suck, or you can have nothing and suck. The sucky people are not equal to the unsucky people, so try not to suck.
  51. Donald Trump sucks.
  52. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are my favorite place.
  53. Bequia, SVG is my second favorite place.
  54. Glacier National Park is my third favorite.
  55. In the scientific method I trust.
  56. New York City is as good as I always imagined it would be.
  57. Don’t assume that people will act in a rational or predictable way. People are nuts.
  58. People who appreciate the Dune series un-ironically are my people. (Very hard to find)
  59. Good deeds aren’t that great unless you do them without the expectation of a reward.
  60. If you get a chance to use the bathroom, take it.
  61. It’s fine to say no to someone or something. You don’t need to justify why you said it.
  62. If I say that an animal did something with its hands, my dad will always correct me that it doesn’t have hands.
  63. Poison doesn’t kill a cockroach as quickly as a shoe.
  64. If someone trusts you, you better not violate that.
  65. Baths are not relaxing unless you take a shower first to wash off your filth.
  66. Front teeth are a prerequisite for being taken seriously. Protect yours at all costs.
  67. Dance clubs are nightmares. Little bars are dreams.
  68. Pouting is way worse than screaming.
  69. My heart tells me to be a vegan, but my stomach tells me, “nah.”
  70. Games involving balls are best left to others.
  71. Baby tortoises love bananas, but not so much apples.
  72. When debating about an issue I’m passionate about, I will probably tear up.
  73. I will cry if someone else’s dog dies. (I will question my entire existence and disappear into a hole of despair if mine dies)
  74. I will cry if someone triumphs in a Disney movie.
  75. I will cry throughout the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  76. Don’t give anyone anything if it seems like they want it too much.
  77. I am equally happy talking to my friends every day, or not talking to them for a year. I don’t love them any less. Except one who I must talk to at least 3 times a week.
  78. Planning stops 99% of problems from ever happening.
  79. If people don’t understand what you are saying, or why you know so much about a certain topic, they will act like you’re the dumb one. You’re not.
  80. When you get rid of expectations, you’ll be ready for anything.
  81. It’s better for your health if you accept apologies that have not been given.
  82. Always travel with a bathing suit.
  83. You have to choose to be motivated.
  84. If you’re always thinking about the thing, then just do the damn thing.
  85. Nothing is ever as bad as I expect it to be.
  86. French fries are overrated. Potatoes were meant to be mashed.
  87. Admit. When. You. Are. Wrong.
  88. Freaking out about something has never made it better.
  89. People are nowhere near as interesting as they think they are (including yourself) but they really love it when you act like they are.
  90. Cormac McCarthy is the best living American author.
  91. There are not enough waffles in the world.
  92. There is no exercise more spiritually fulfilling than backpacking.
  93. The fastest way for a man to make me hate him is to whistle at me.
  94. Life really is too damn short.
  95. Perseverance is my favorite trait in myself, because it’s the one I work hardest to have.
  96. America is never as bad as Americans think it is.
  97. Absolutely do not tell someone acting crazy that they are crazy.
  98. Drinking through a straw keeps your teeth whiter.
  99. It’s ok to like things that other people don’t like.
  100. Living away from your whole family is REALLY HARD.

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Filed under Katie Thoughts, Peace Corps

Peace Corps Coping Mechanisms

WORST BLOGGER EVER. I swear I’m alive and doing things, I just don’t really have the calling to blog about much in the current moment. In light of this, I want to write about what I do do (haha) to cope with all the changes that come with being in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps medical staff might refer to these things as coping mechanisms. They ask that you steer away from drugs and alcohol, but Imnotgonnalie, I do have some wine once in a while. Luckily this is more of a “I like wine” thing than a “I need wine” thing, so I think I’m good for now.

Why do you need coping mechanisms (one may ask)? The answer is multifaceted, but in a nutshell: Being in the Peace Corps requires you to give up almost everything you did in your former life (or tweak it drastically). Many of the things that I loved are kind of out of reach. A lot of these things are pieces of my life that I thought really made me who I am. For example, things that I loved from the States that are out of reach here:

-family time

-hanging with my dog

-hanging with my friends

-going out for a meal

-hot showers/most personal grooming (nails, hair, etc.)

-backpacking

-camping

-driving

-shopping

-going to the gym

-seeing a movie

-running

-snowboarding

-going out for drinks

-dating

-going out alone

All of these things, I either can’t do, or won’t do here for various reasons. Usually these reasons are related to either safety or accessibility. For a hot minute here, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself because I couldn’t do these things. I really felt like they made up the person that I was, and without them, I felt kind of empty. Mostly, I felt like much of my independence was taken away. Not being able to drive made me feel so trapped. I don’t mind being alone, but, at home, I would go for a walk or go see a movie alone. Here I can’t really do those things. I do go walking, but the time and places I can do that are very limited. Unfortunately, that’s not just me being paranoid, locals have told me that it’s less than safe. Anyway, I digress. I needed to find a way to fill the holes left in my personality by the absence of these things.

So without further ado, here are some of the coping strategies I have come up with to try and stay sane.

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  1. Journal. I journal, keep a diary, whatever you want to call it. I’ve done it since high school and it really helps me by acting as a filter between my brain and my mouth. If I need to get something off my chest, it goes right into the journal, which often stops it from spewing onto some unsuspecting soul at a later date. I can reason out my feelings and move on. Because of this, my journal probably reads like that of a homicidal little psycho. It also helps me remember things that have happened. I listen to a lot of crime podcasts and always think, “If that fool had kept a journal, we would know exactly what happened!” Which brings me to #2
  2. Podcasts. I didn’t listen to podcasts that frequently in the States, but here they are my gospel, and Terry Gross and Ira Glass are my patron saints. So yeah, I listen to copious amounts of NPR. It really relaxes me.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  3. Reading. I’m back to reading tons of books. One of my best friends got me a kindle before I left. I had resisted it for so long, but now I’m glad I have it. I also have access to a huge Google drive full of books from another friend that I’m sure were all obtained legally *cough cough*. I spend a lot of time reading between the classes I teach, which feels far more productive than my next mechanism…
  4. Netflix. We all do it. It’s like the worst drug. There is something really nice about being able to slug out and binge watch something after a long day though.
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  5. Hiking. Hiking the Volcano, Soufriere is a really nice way to spend a Saturday. Another thing that I, unfortunately, can’t do alone, but I can usually rustle up somebody to go with me.
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  6. Beach Days and hanging with other PCV’s. I am so lucky to have found people who I am sure will be lifelong friends. Getting to see them most weekends really revives me when I’m feeling frustrated. I seriously love those people. We usually spent the night at each other’s houses at least once a month.
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  7. Beans. Having a cat has been great. He’s no dog, but my time at home is way more entertaining thanks to him.
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  8. Cooking. I’m slowly but surely learning to make new things. I have lots of fails, but the successes are awesome.
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  9. Host Mom/ Local Friends. I really like going to visit with my host mom. She lives down the street from me and is seriously the funniest lady. I actually don’t visit her enough, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow… I also work with some people at the school who always manage to brighten my day and put me in a good mood. I’ve gotten to the point where I actually love going to school, rather than being afraid of the hoards of small children.
  10. Skyping Family and Friends. It makes me cry just thinking about it, but I could talk to them for hours. This is another thing that makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER.
  11. Finding New Things. Anytime I find a new thing I like, it feels like a little win. For example, the other day it occurred to me that instead of taking an ice cold shower in the morning, I could fill up a bucket with hot water and take a bucket bath. I have no idea why I didn’t do this before, but now that I am, I don’t dread bathing anymore! When instant gratification is no longer an option, the little things become much more valuable.

So anyway, the list could go on, but the point is that I am able to find things to brighten my day. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t need my day brightened so much if I got more respect from some men walking down the street… but I don’t want to harp on that too much. I may not be able to feel safe walking down a lonely road, but I hope one day to get to the point where their rude/ misogynistic comments won’t dampen my spirit. I know the things in the list above will help.

I guess if it weren’t a challenge, everyone would do it. I think that the thought that really gets me through is that the challenge is making me better in a way I couldn’t have experienced at home. When people do things like this, when you get out of your comfort zone, you do it because you want to be a better human when you come out the other side. If I can achieve that, every challenge will be worth it. The added benefit of the Peace Corps is that I can do my best to brighten other people’s days along the way. I can work every day to make myself a better person and give opportunities to the students I work with.

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