Funemployment Fail

by Tabitha Kidwell

When I came home, I had lots of plans about how I would spend the next 6-12 months before starting grad school. I want to end up in the right program, so the visiting/choosing/applying phase was easily going to require 3 months. Then I thought I would cast about for work in the manner of a 22-year-old recent grad. My friends all had this experience right out of college, but I had always had the next step planned, so I missed out. I thought I would live with my parents or grandmother, do some translation or test grading online, bartend or work at starbucks, travel around to visit friends. I even had elaborate fantasies, like editing this blog into a book and getting it published, or opening an Indonesian food truck, or going on The Amazing Race. Fantasies aside, I thought it would be good for me to have a year of uncertainty, a year where my self worth wasn’t determined by my career, a year when I would step back and sort through the news feed of my life.

So, two weeks in, that sucked. The reason I have never put myself in such an uncertain situation is that I HATE UNCERTAINTY. I am a fairly type A, hyper-oprganized person, and all these lingering possibilities were just stressing me out. With nothing planned, it felt like everything was possible, like finding a secret passageway to France in my closet, or inventing a tele-porter that would send me to Bali, or entering a time-traveling wormhole and re-joining the Peace Corps.

So I just did that last one. I accepted a position in El Salvador with Peace Corps Response, which is like Peace Corps for grown-ups. Like how attractive contestants on The Bachelor get automatic acceptance on Bachelor Pad. It’s a special program for returned Peace Corps volunteers that requires more technical expereince and is shorter term. So I’d be working with the Ministry of Education, writing a curriculum guide and training teachers to help them teach the national curriculum. I had always thought about doing a Response position, but had never had the time before. This placement is only from October to May, so it fits in just perfectly before starting grad school in the fall. I wasn’t really intending to go abroad again, but it was so perfect for me that I thought “I wonder how easy it is to apply.” It turns out, really easy. It was a matter of uploading my resume and writing a paragraph. I got to the submit button and though “Oops… I guess I’ll apply after all.” I had interviewed and been sent an invitation within a week of being home.

So I accepted it, and was so excited! NOT. I accepted it, but feel pretty lukewarm. I really just want to live in America. I want to be near my friends and family, be in my own culture, actually live in one place for an extended period of time. It’s a strange life I am leading where moving to El Salvador is the safe option, the easy way out. I would be really good at the job there, I would have enough money, everything would be taken care of. I’d improve (remember?) my Spanish and would get great career experience. But I might also feel like I was in self-imposed exile. People keep saying stuff like “Wow! Living abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Well, not the fifth time! It would definitely be an adventure, but I’m feeling a little tired of adventures at the moment. Part of me wants to go, but part of me wants to tackle the adventure of sleeping on a friend’s couch and working in retail.

So, friends, family, faithful readers, what should I do? I have barely started the final approval process for the Peace Corps, so I could easily just un-accept their invitation. Should I stay? Should I go? Should I move to DC, New York, Seattle, San Fransisco, LA…? Should I move to Denver, live with my sister and her soon-to-be-husband, and be their dog-walker? Should go on a reality TV show? Is this what it feels like to be 22?

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2 Comments to “Funemployment Fail”

  1. Tab! Wow and congrats on the offer! Can’t wait to talk about this with you in VA. But like D said, from my perspective there’s no “right” answer here. I think it all comes down to your gut feeling.

  2. That is exactly what it feels like to be 22, Tabitha.

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