Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Emotional Roller Coaster

Today, something frustrating happened. As a PCV who's getting ready to leave this country, I find my emotions are on a hair's trigger. I remember feeling this way when I first arrived, but somewhere down the line, everything just sort of balanced out. I began to understand the cultural nuances and chalked a lot of stuff up to a lack of information and access to diversity.

Fast-forward to today and I wanted to dress down that curious grandpa in the most harshest of ways. I also wanted to immediately call someone and complain. I wanted to get online and rave. I needed to have my feelings validated.

This emotional stress does happen a lot when you are a PCV. It's hard, being so far away from other Americans and especially the friends and family that you know would agree with you because they got your back. I read the current trainees' blogs and I remember how it felt to just have arrived in this country and ride that emotional roller coaster. I just can't believe I am on it again.

It's hard, taking that deep breath and reminding yourself of all the things you know. When I do call a friend to complain, I often get dressed-down myself. I overreacted. I mitigated the importance of cultural communication styles. I misinterpreted the intentions. A part of me wants to explain away saying," I know, I get it. I've been here 3 years." I also know that just because I've got those 3 years under my belt doesn't mean I am some all-knowing and powerful PCV who can dictate the cultural norms. I still make mistakes. I still struggle.

It just sucks that that emotional roller coaster sticks with you for your entire service. Sometimes you are on the big climb up and other times you are plunging back down. Personally, I try to keep all the crazy contained as I know regardless of how well I explain it, I inevitably will just make my host country and myself look bad if all I did was write the negative. Conversely, writing just the positive makes for bland reading. Finding that balance, well, that is part of the roller coaster too.