Asking Myself “Why Not?” Instead of “Why?”

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading everything I can find about Moldova, particularly blogs written by past and present Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova.  These blogs have been invaluable to me as I try to prepare myself for two years in a place that is very different from the United States.

One of the questions I keep getting asked is why I decided to apply to the Peace Corps.  It’s not a simple question to answer, but I”ll try here.  The option of going into the Peace Corps has been in the back of my mind since about middle school, although I really didn’t know that much about it until this summer.  Even though the idea appealed to me, I kept pushing it to the back of my mind because it seemed like such a big commitment.  More than anything, I was afraid that I would miss out on being there for the big moments of my family members and friends.  This summer, when I stumbled upon the Peace Corps website, quite by accident, I decided to think long and hard about what appealed to me about the Peace Corps and why I kept pushing it to the back of my mind.  First, what appealed to me: the fact that I could help others (service), using my talents as a teacher, while also immersing myself in a different culture and having the opportunity to see more of the world.  In some odd way, the fact that being a Peace Corps volunteer is challenging also appeals to me.  There were a number of reasons I kept pushing the idea to the back of my mind, chief among them the reason I already stated: I would miss out on the things going on in the lives of those I love.  And, I’ll be honest, that’s a really big reason for me.  My loved ones are my number one priority and life, so knowing that I won’t see most, perhaps even all of them, for at least two years is still the part of this whole journey that I’m most worried about.  But when I really thought about it, it seemed like an excuse to me.  What I was really afraid of was the unknown of it all, and for me, that really isn’t a reason not to do something.  I’ve worked hard over the last few years to be more open to the unknown.  After all, if I live my life in fear of the unknown, I wouldn’t get to experience many of the greatest things in life.

I ultimately asked myself the question, “Why not?” instead of “Why?”  and I really couldn’t come up with one solid reason not to go for it.  After all, there will be no better time in my life to do something like this than now.  Right now, there is literally nothing holding me down.  I’m single, I don’t have any kids (or even pets) to care for, I don’t have a job, everything I own can fit in a single room (and thankfully, my parents will allow me to keep my stuff in my room at their house).  I don’t have to worry about what to do with my (non-existent) car or house while I’m gone, because I don’t own either.  I don’t need to worry about putting my furniture in storage because, again, I don’t own any.  I don’t have to worry about leaving a job behind or about what I’ll do when I return because that’s unknown for me right now anyway.  I debated waiting until after grad school, but I think that if I wait, I’ll have more reasons not to do it.  And I really want to do it.

I will admit that submitting that application was scary.  I have no idea where in Moldova I will be living in one year, whether I’ll have running water, or what exactly to expect.  Even now, it’s scary.  But it is also so exciting.  When I’ve told people that I’m going into the Peace Corps, so many of them have told me “You know, I always wanted to do that.”  I don’t want to be 50 and wonder why I didn’t take the leap.