I have a secret for you: my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer is boring a lot of the time. In the weeks (and months and year…) leading up to leaving, I spent my time explaining to co-workers and friends what I would be doing here in Colombia. From that distance, a distance which even more than miles and weeks was the distance of not knowing anything really, my life looked magical. Really, my life is a lot like it was in the United States. I wake up, I go to work, I play rugby or go to the gym, I eat dinner, and I go to bed. On the weekends I laze around a lot and will things to happen.
Time for another secret: I have FOMO. Fear of missing out. My grandma gave me this sickness; she never wanted to nap because she didn’t want the fun to happen without her. Similarly, I want to be at all the cool events, do all the fun things with my friends, and play all the latest games with my family. So now that I am here, not doing any of those things, my FOMO has changed to FLIMO – feeling like I’m missing out.
This is only enhanced by this really amazing thing that my house has: wifi. I can feed my addiction to social media all that I want without worrying about using up all of my data, which is absolutely not the norm for volunteers here. I’m constantly seeing pictures from all of my city’s best events that for some reason are still happening even though I’m not there – most recently Northern Spark and Pride. I’m seeing pictures of all the foods that I miss from home. Even seeing pictures of my loved ones taking trips to New York, Europe, China, etc. making me feel like I’m missing out, which is just stupid because I wouldn’t be on those trips any more if I were home than I am here. But what’s really getting me now is wedding season. I’m missing big moments in friends’ lives, big parties, and a chance to get all dolled up with my main squeeze.
Essentially, the thing that in a lot of ways helps me to not deal with the loneliness and isolation that a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers fear is also the thing that makes me feel lonely and isolate.
So what’s a girl to do? Let’s be real: I’m not going to put my phone down. So let’s look at my more realistic options.
Get busy. I’m lucky enough to have a chance to learn and practice a sport here, which is not necessarily true for volunteers in all communities. That generally gives me something to do 6 hours a week. There are at least 5 gyms in town, one of which I have selected as mine, so that gets 2 hours a week. I’m at the school at least 25 hours a week, and am doing hours of work outside of the school building. I’m hoping that between getting a couple projects up and running, and having a little more freedom to travel and spend more time away from site, some of my boredom will dissapate.
Make a mental shift. I’m not missing out! I’m living my dream! If I weren’t “missing out” on all of those other things, I wouldn’t be here – and right now, I’d rather be here.