Hey guys. I’ve missed you.
When I lost my camera battery, and the cord that lets me attach my pic to my ipad broke, I had a mini depression about blogging. My train of thought was something along the lines of UGH I have no pictures to share there is no way this will work everyone will think I’m the worst boringest blogger ever if I don’t add pictures I’m going to ignore this forever and hope it gets better on its own. But, as I was neglecting blogging, my life was building up and up with crazy stories and life happenings. And it was easier to just get further behind than it was to try and approach the idea of playing blog catch up. Ultimately, I don’t really think there is anyone saying I have to play blog catch up. So I’m not going to. I’m going to tell you things that are worth knowing without chronicling things that aren’t. And maybe there will be monkeys.I’ve started work. The real work. Teaming up with another volunteer on a research project about Chronic Kidney Disease (of unknown etiology). Which is great for a million reasons. Professionally, it’s at the heart of what I want to be doing with my life. It’s a biological, human disease with incredible social repercussions that requires both a dose of science and some anthropology to adequately explore. It’s the sweet spot. I also get along great with the other USA volunteer that is leading the research, and indulging in some American culture so far from home is easily a guilty pleasure. Scratch that- no guilt involved. This new project is great in theory, and I think will ultimately prove great in reality, but is definitely challenging in the moment. The past week I’ve spent traveling the country and collecting stories- via interviews from all kinds of people that are affected both directly and indirectly by CKDu. Which is hard. In a lot of ways, this disease is a death sentence that strikes the poorest of the poor. Which means my days are full of amazing and inspiring stories, but each day I’m exhausted long before tea time can sweep in and save the day. I feel like this work is meaningful, but I also feel crazy unqualified and too young to juggle a to-do list that has grown as complex as mine has.
… Which means that it’s a good thing the weekends exist. For the most part, I’m still milking the heck out of the cheap weekend travel vacations. A few weeks ago I went to Sigiriya (below), along with some temple tours and some time exploring Kandy- the culture capital of the country. Followed that trip up with a 2am pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak via a treacherous 5,000 steps, and a spontaneous underwear swim through a waterfall after a hike at Worlds End. It’s been okay I guess (:
Life here has been hard though. It’s hard when I wake up and I find myself pleading for a toilet that flushes because despite me thinking I’m a badass traveler, I still find myself craving western amenities. It’s hard when I realize that I even though I really like the idea of being here doing what I’m doing, I’ve also caught myself yearning for the time in January where I can just look back on these times fondly and see all that I’ve learned crystally clear. And then I go back to a job where I encourage students to go study in these crazy places. I’ve never doubted whether or not it was a good decision to be here- it’s absolutely where I need to be- but it’s not the perfection that the dominican was, which makes reaping every moment for all that it’s worth kind of an obnoxious hassle. As I’m seeing just how crazy fast this time is actually going to fly by, I definitely have a pang of guilt that pops up when I feel like I’m really just faking it here. A wise woman once(ugh, sorry guys, this is sara bareilles..) introduced me to “imposter syndrome.” The “fake it till you make it” mantra where you feel like you’re the one person that made it to where you are by some accident and you just hope the world won’t figure out the slip up. And those words have been popping up in my head my entire stay here. Sure, I’m this traveler, I’m this almost- college graduate that has a decently painted resume with languages and some experience and a seemingly smart demeanor. But shoot if I don’t feel utterly clueless when I have to actually DO things. Maybe everybody feels a bit sub par to their resume, but I feel like the things I’ve chosen to pursue have made me seem way more qualified than I actually am and there’s nothing quite like my time here to humble the crap out of me. Anyways. Those are turning into rambling thoughts. Thanks for sticking around, but I’ll wrap ’em up now.
On a lighter note, one of the other volunteers finally motivated me to get off my butt and find a camera charger. Which I did! So that is huge news. I’ve also FINALLY learned that the right way to ride in a packed train is sitting out the doorway (because doors don’t exist). Don’t worry mom, I won’t fall out. But man, that’s been the best way for me to get my fix of fresh air and a clean mind. Seeing the country with my face in the wind like a dog riding shotgun is one of my favorite things :) Hopefully I’ll get some more pics uploaded, but here’s a few for now. I’ll also try to add in some more stories along the way, because I knowww that they are way easier and more exciting to read about than Shannons Emotional Journey through Life. Glad to be back near internet though and thanks for all the well wishes!