We all have those “what ifs” in our lives. Probably the biggest one for me currently is the “What if I hadn’t joined Peace Corps?”. I’m still in that weird state where I feel like I’ve been here a while but am still a newbie. I have made some connections and a little bit of headway workwise, but I’m still trying to break through and really accomplish something worthwhile. I know that my choice to be here is a good one, but sometimes you still wonder, you know?
I think I’m pondering this extra heavily right now because on Friday many of my Evans school classmates graduated from our public affairs masters program. They’ve turned in their Degree Projects (I have yet to even really consider mine) and many of them have been awarded fellowships (one of my good friends, Gary, was even awarded this one) or landed great jobs. They’ve accomplished something concrete, well-defined and they’ve got a neat piece of paper saying so. They’re well on their way to an exciting new stage in their lives.
And part of me is jealous. I want to feel accomplished! I want to be able to point to something and say “I did that.” I want to have a good idea of what my “next step” is and be on my way to real paychecks. And part of me says “You could have had all of it!” I could be in Seattle right now, with my piece of paper and (one can only dream) a job all lined up. I’d be getting ready for a sushi dinner and showering instead of bucket bathing with murky water (have I mentioned that water has lately been an issue?).
But I know it would feel incomplete. I’d have an MPA with a focus in International Development… and zero field experience. My spanish would be an embarrassing assortment of beginner’s vocabulary and basic conjugations becoming ever more hazy in my mind. I’d have never met any of the people I have grown to adore in Guatemala and wouldn’t be a part of my training class family. I’d feel like I cheated.
Would alternate universe me be more happy? Hard to say. But I definitely think she would feel like something was missing. I think I’m much happier wondering “What if I hadn’t joined?” than I would be asking “What if I had?”