Two years ago I decided to sign up for the Peace Corps. I had studied abroad, learned Czech, found the job market blew when I graduated and was looking for a general “out” that would expand my horizons. I happened to be in a relationship at the time, but throughout that period, I had acted upon my desires to improve my life rather than prolong the relationship. I had my priorities, albeit slightly contradictory, that I started to follow through on. At the time I was working for an elderly human services agency just outside of Boston and was getting restless in the job I held. So, I told my friends, family, girlfriend (at the time) and employer that I was going to the Peace Corps.
The process to sign up and interview all took around 3 months. I searched for placements and graduate programs around the program for about 6 months, so the process was really long. I got a tentative assignment in Moldova, a former Soviet occupied state and I was super pumped. I had wanted to go to a Russian or Slavic based language assignment because of my background with Czech, I felt I’d adapt more quickly that to Spanish, Chinese or some other foreign tongue.
As the process moved along, I was in disbelief that it was actually happening so smoothly. I met a woman at a New Years party who is now in South America doing Peace Corps work and hers went smoothly too. Too good to be true? Well, I did get the call I wasn’t wanting to hear; the background check came in and they saw an incident from when I was 17. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong people to be around. Dumb teenager stuff really, but I did get in trouble with some townie police outside of Worcester and was later acquitted completely. But, this dumb incident was still on my record and they needed all sorts of paperwork and legal stuff to make a decision to whether I’d be accepted or not. I was really crushed because I felt my past had come back to haunt me in the way I knew it would some day.
So, I “gave up.” Not in the positive way that Seth Godin talks about in “The Dip,” but rather I shirked away from taking a couple days off from work and driving back to the hillbilly town that arrested me and getting all my paperwork and legal documents in order. I told myself that all the effort to do that wouldn’t be rewarded, so why bother?
Well, two years later and here I am, losing sleep over it. My friend in the military is thinking about doing a Peace Corps stint after his next tour of duty and he’s really adamant I at least try to follow through once more on getting an assignment abroad with PC. With this economy the way it is, why not? I’m 25, I’ve got no unbreakable commitments outside of the ones to myself at the moment and this is something I’ve always wanted to do.
So, I’m re-applying to join the Peace Corps. I’m doing what needs to be done and leaving no stones unturned in the fulfillment of my life. Wish me luck!