I got asked an interesting question, one that I really haven’t given much thought to, so at the time I didn’t have an answer. However. I think I now have THE PERFECT ANSWER. Committing to Peace Corps is like running a marathon. Let me explain.
First you decide to commit to it. Whether your running a marathon (26.2mi) or serving (27 months) overseas, you have to be sure you really, really, really want to do it.
Then you prepare for it.
For both you have to push your limits mentally and physically. First step..asking yourself…What should I do to get ready? What do I need? What is my timeline? Who can be my support buddy, cheering me on? What’s the investment? Are there any health limitations or concerns? Where do you want to do this? When will you be ready to do it? What are the basic qualifications?
Once you answer all those questions then you go through the physical aspects. Gathering supplies, going through health checks, preparing for the designated destination, informing people, verifying you are in, and taking care of all the investments.
The big day arrives. The marathon, or start of PC service. Questions racing through your mind as you stand at the starting gate…Am I really ready? Can I last for 26.2mi/27 months? What am I going to do if things get hard? Do I remember who is going to be on the sidelines if I need help? That it is my decision to stop anytime I want, I am in control. And there are other people in it as much as I am.
Then it starts. It is sudden and almost unexpected, months of preparation for this one step forward. You surge through emotions, adrenaline and determination coursing through you, pushing you forward. You have started.
After that it is mile/month after mile/month. The first leg of the race you take at a slow and steady pace. Finding your rhythm, and adapting to the terrain. It is slow going, but you don’t want to exhaust yourself since you just started. Every rest is like a vacation, taking a moment to breathe deep, analyze your progress and build new stamina to keep pushing on. This is the time you can appreciate the company of your other runners/volunteers, each encouraging others.
Nearing the end of the race you mentally see the finish line. You can taste victory. Can it be over so soon? Your pace starts to pick up, but time slowed down, it is you, your mission, and the final push to the end. You feel like you can’t go any further, you are tired from the effort, but simultaneously invigorated from making it so far, you don’t know whether to be excited or sad that it is all over.
Through the 26.2mi/27 months you have grown as a person. It changes you, accomplishing something you have worked so hard for, something so challenging that only some do it and make it to the end. It is a true test of mental and physical limits. You are stronger, faster, and more humble. You against yourself. Some time were easier than others, and there were moment of weakness, but you prevailed, you kept going.
The race ends, but you want to keep going. You say goodbye to the others in your group and as you leave the comfort of your new family, you find your support buddies, waiting. They cheered you on the entire time. They couldn’t be happier to see you and it is an overwhelming feeling of happiness to see everyone.
You want to keep running, to feel that certain way again. You know you have support. You know you can do it. Well there is a whole world out there, and endless races to conquer. Whether running a marathon, or joining the Peace Corps, all you have to do is make a committment and take one step forward to change your life.