People often ask what the most difficult part of Peace Corps life is. Is it the culture, food, or language? At first it was all of the above. But these past months I’ve realized that the previous mentioned subjects are nothing compared to one overwhelming sensation that surmounts all other challenges presented in this existence in which I find myself living. The toughest part is purely the inside out sensation of being alone.
Until now I have always had a wonderful support system of friends and family close at hand. I have relied on these people for acceptance and support. I’ve had a combination of luck and friendly disposition to find a network wherever I have gone, be it grade school, college, Senegal, Guadeloupe or Israel. Now, I am a single foreigner surrounded by Mongolians. I have relationships with a few of them, sure. But for reasons relating to personality, language and cultural barriers, I will always still feel a distance between my close friends here and myself.
Being alone makes certain things become crystal clear. I realize now that I have always unconsciously defined myself in terms of how I interact with others. This year took away these outside connections and forced me to figure out who I really am. It has stripped away the layers and exposed me, and only me, utterly bare for the first time in twenty five years. I have discovered… well truthfully, I’m not sure. But whatever it is, for better or for worse, it’s me.
Written May, 2015