Monday, January 30, 2012

Observations of a Girl: On Being an Inspiration

Anyone who talks to me knows that while I constantly observe and appreciate my life's relative coolness, I consider it to be pretty normal. I know; I know it sounds contradictory, but it's true. My 'Holy crap I'm in Africa' moments exist within a constant state of actually living in Africa. It is for this reason that my blogs grow scarce (and my pictures rank lower in total number than my dad's did in a 10 day trip); I generally feel I haven't got much to say because this life has become my 'mean.'

Sometimes, though, I'm given the chance to see my life through someone else's eyes (something usually accompanied by compliments and praise, the likes of which make me blush like a rose in the spring) and it dawns on me that, like other Peace Corps volunteers were for me, I'm a kind of role model now.

I had the opportunity about two weeks ago to dine with some awesome, inspiring people; people making a living doing everything I'm interested in (One Campaign employees, political advisors, political lobbyists and campaign runners, etc.). I mean, I listened to these men and women talk about doing campaign work for people like Reagan and Gore, about their 'leg-up' positions as the personal assistants to famous Senators, about their involvement in very historical moments in Washington. It was fascinating; I could have listened to them talk all night. What I found mind-boggling was that they seemed to feel the same way about me.

As I casually discussed my projects, my daily existence, and my every-day working life, I realized that it was absolutely out of the ordinary for them. They considered it as inspiring and important as I considered their experiences (and let me tell ya: that's a kick in the teeth).

In truth, this happens a lot; I forget that (though coming to Africa was my choice and, therefor, doesn't seem very extraordinary to me) my job, my experiences, and the life I lead aren't considered normal  to most people. I'm living 'a life inspired;' a life inspiring.

I couldn't tell you exactly how this feels; like any lightbulb moment, it brightens my surroundings like a sonic boom and then it's gone. I could never claim to be inspiring, either - this whole experience has been one full of gratitude and child-like niavity from the from the start. I'm humbled by my work every day, and am often surprised at my luck in doing exactly what I came here to do. Opening an office or building a borehole is as equally awe-inspiring for me because I recognize the people around me who have created that success. Everything here is like a shot in the dark - one in every six attempts errupts into a sparkle of light, but most of the time I've no idea what I'm doing.

I guess it's because we get dropped here - into jobs we've never experienced, a culture we've never explored, a language we don't know - and everything becomes trial and error; we spend two years of our lives in a perpetual state of free-fall until we're plopped back down into the lives we used to know. It's why this job is so unique, anyone who tells you different isn't telling you the whole truth. It's a part of the appeal and it's a part of the struggle.

To wake up one day and decide to be inspiring is backwards - that's never the order anything in life happens. All I can do is lead a life I'm proud of and, so far, I consider myself pretty lucky in that regard. Maybe I inspire someone to apply for the Peace Corps, maybe I help get someone involved in an NGO or research about certain social and political climates - all of these things are wonderful and humbling, but all I've really done is pass the torch and continued living.

It's a fleeting, beautiful thing, you see; captured in blinding, fuzzy moments that stop time, but it's also a cycle. We each keep on living, doing the things we each find amazing; it's the great thing about life: potential - the power of doing. Maybe I've inspired, but that's not really the point, is it? The point becomes, what will you do with it?