Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thankful for choices

WARNING: Reading any further may expose you to cliche & Jess-style angst. Watch out.

So I suppose it would be strange if it were otherwise, but in the past few weeks I've really noticed how being here makes me thankful 100x over each day for things I used to take for granted: to have an amazing education, to travel, to have brilliant friends who do amazing things, to be financially independent, to feel like I have the same opportunities as a woman as I would as a man, and to live somewhere where it's considered culturally acceptable (in our circles at least) to live with a significant other before marriage.

Recently, I've felt embarrassed about all the choices that I have available to me. More specifically it's difficult to explain to people here that I had the security and financial means that allowed me to choose to give up a comfortable (relatively well-paying) job and life to travel and do something simply because it moved me... because I was interested in learning about something and somewhere new... because I wanted to be challenged... because I thought I might be useful here... because I had an itch to travel.

This isn't something that people here totally get. Though people at the office are a bit more accustomed to foreigners coming to work (mostly volunteers), more often than not other folks want to know right off the bat: "why are you here?" To many, my title, "Technical Advisor," means "high-paid" and "important," and so many assume that I'm here for the money and it's commonplace for someone to ask how much I make. Foreign advisors make magnitudes more than their local counterparts, so relatively speaking, this job makes me a rich woman. From my perspective, of course, this job makes me no such thing. I haven't quite settled on an explanation that can satisfy.

Anyway, I have more thoughts but I'll spare you all for now.


  1. I feel ya. But props to you for at least acting on being moved. Most of us just sit on our bums, in our bubbles, getting fatter, lazier, and more entitled. Don't forget to be grateful for the dose of perspective you're getting there too!

  2. Ooh -- exciting to know that someone's reading ;) Yes, I'm incredibly thankful for the experience and am loving my time -- just feel guilty sometimes...