A time for reflection
When I was preparing to leave USAID, I had a lot of fellow employees ask, "So what did you learn?"
I gave rather poorly crafted answers because I simply did not know. I had been in a different environment for so long that I had not had adequate time to gain perspective on everything that had transpired. This entry is meant to discuss what I took away from the experience and thank those who showed me the door to becoming a more complete human being.
Before I left for sub-Saharan Africa, I was in a spiraling state of self-destruction. I was constantly worried about the future and how I would cope with the obstacles ahead. Over the course of my stay in Mozambique, I had a plethora of obstacles. I dealt with each one successfully and began to gather confidence that I could indeed tackle tough challenges. This slowly eroded my fear of the future and allowed me to be more at peace with myself and the world around me. I now realize that my previous state of perpetual worry was because I didn't believe in myself. I couldn't see my true capabilities and, as a result, I pushed away many of the ones I loved. Unfortunately, this newfound confidence in my abilities quickly grew out of control and ultimately led to my downfall.
From the start of the year, I had played with fire. I had driven at break neck speeds across the United States and not been caught, successfully kicked out an unruly tenant with empty threats, challenged corrupt cops to shoot me, and placed myself within striking distance of some of the world's most dangerous animals. At each attempt, I had walked away unscathed. The more I tested the odds and won, the more hubris filled my veins. The more I succeeded, the more brash my moves became.
This newfound confidence became a drug. With each high, I searched progressively for more dangerous situations to put myself into and test the limits even further. I began to feel untouchable, and then it all came crashing down. In the ashes of the fallout, I realized that I had neglected those I loved because of my selfishness and hurt them because of my pride. I had taken those in my life for granted and lost the one person that meant everything to me. I looked into the mirror and a villain stared back - I had become the antithesis of what I wanted to be.
This endowed me with a sense of humility and understanding. In my past life, I had rarely sympathized with the poor decisions of others before because I didn't understand how such egregious missteps could be taken. Once I had tested dangerous territory and finally lost, I was able to identify with my own humanity and therefore that of those around me. I had tarnished my honor, and was left with empathy. I was finally able to do something that was near impossible for me to do before - forgive.
These lessons were learned over a long and tumultuous road, but I feel that I have grown exponentially in the aftermath of these events. I can only hope that this understanding for myself and the world around me is not a transient one. These reflections are a deeper glimpse into the question asked by my colleagues at my departure. It is far from complete, but I am okay with that. I hope that I gain even more perspective on who I have become, but I am letting the universe show me the way for now. Thank you to...
You have all made my experience incredible, and I thank each of you for sharing a part of your journey with me.