Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why There Should Be No Shame In ET-ing

This post is a hard one to make. I guess really any post where I talk about our decision to leave the Peace Corps early is a hard one. This is especially hard as today one of my closest volunteer friends got on a plane to go home.

So when you think about the idea of ET(Early Terminate)ing you think, oh dang, that's a really personal and really hard decision, I wouldn't look down on someone for making that decision. Or would you?

I guess I don't really know how to accurately portray the feelings of shame that one feels even when they're thinking of making this decision. It's hard. It's hard that when you're struggling with this decision, that other volunteers are talking about it. It's hard that people come up to you and say I heard you're ETing when you, yourself haven't even decided what you're going to do.

I guess it's not an outright feeling of shame, like someone telling you they're disappointed in you or telling you they're ashamed of you. But it's a feeling of shame that you, the person making this really hard decision feels. I made a commitment. I made a commitment to Peace Corps, but more than that, I made a commitment to my school to be there for two years, and I'm letting them down. That's one of the biggest struggles that I've been dealing with. The shame of giving up. I don't like to give up on things that I've dedicated myself to.

What's even harder is to know when it's right to give up, to look past those feelings of shame and think will I get more out being here, or being home; will I be happier if I stay or if I go? Will I actually be helpful to my community if I stay here unhappy? For us when Hal got the scholarship that was the tipping point, we would be getting more out of life, and would be happier if we went home.

One of the biggest blessings to come out of this has been the amount of support we've received from everyone since making our decision. The feelings of shame while making the decision were suddenly replaced by the feelings of support from everyone around us.

I heard of a volunteer who wasn't supported by someone in her family in her decision to come here, or her decision to go home. That just broke my heart. I had a short talk with her where I tried to give her as much support as I could. I told her that it's a freaking hard decision to make, and no one but you knows if it's right, so people should support you in that decision.

 The biggest surprise of all was the support that has come from our fellow volunteers. I'm pretty sure every volunteer has thought of ETing at least once during their service. They know what it's like and what a hard decision it is to make, and they have been so kind and supportive. They have made all of this a lot easier on us.

It sucks that there's feelings of shame associated with ET-ing, but I guess that's just part of the process, and it makes the feelings of support all the more welcome. So support your volunteers, let them know you're proud of them.


Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

I am proud of you!!!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I'm proud that you and Hal have made it so long! From everything that you've shared it's rewarding but hard hard work!

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