A Year

I am now past the year mark and have about 11 months to go with my service.  This has been the longest I have been without seeing my family and my friends from back “home.”  Even though I have been in Cameroon now for 16 months, 11 months sometimes feels like a long time.  I ask myself, can I do it?  After all I’ve made it this far, the rest should be a breeze, right?  I think it might be.  Maybe not all rosy fun times, but I’ve broken up the upcoming year into “increments” based on project time lines, travel plans, visits, and Peace Corps meetings, and it looks something like this:  January- Agro fair/Mid Service, Feb/March- Environmental Education training, April-North to present HIV/GYD committee for “in service trainees,” travel, Agroforestry seminar, May-My Mom comes to visit!!!, June-Batir l’Avenir, July/August-HIV Summer Camp, September- COS CONFERENCE(!), October/November- GRE, World Map Project down town Baham, Replacement Site visit!, December-COS (Close Of Service) and travel.  Put in this context, this year is going to FLY BY.  This is not counting smaller projects along the way which will take time as well.  Each new hurdle is another accomplishment and another step for “what comes next.”

So what exactly does come next?  I don’t know for sure.  I am definitely going to travel.  I have a “Round the World” plan that may be a bit too ambitious for the time being, but I’ll find a way.  I just need to make sure I have some cash left to start my life.  I’m wanting to move in to the NYC area and try to get a job (as a Peace Corps recruiter, but we’ll see…also side jobs like research assistant, server, babysitting are in the forecast as well) and work for about a year while taking some classes and taking the GRE Psychology Subject test.  I’m very interested in a clinical psychology phd program in New York, school shall remain nameless for the time being, but you can probably guess.  I still see myself living in “another part of the world.”  But I don’t want to tie myself down.  I’m all about options at this juncture of my life.

I am, however, thinking about finances.  529 plans, investments, Roth IRAs, setting aside money to buy property one day.  It’s amazing the perceptional shifts which come automatically once this ideas start swimming around your mind.  I find myself changing.  Before I firmly believed that any one person sitting on wealth was sinful, if not THE ultimate sin when there is poverty and starvation.  More than one home a sin when there are homeless.  I still feel myself clinging to these points, but there is a shift brewing and I feel at the precipice of something huge.  Is it possible that Peace Corps service has made me more….gasp…conservitive???  Oh, the horror.

One thing is certain.  I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Poor.  Period.  Been there, done that.  When I was younger, I would flat out tell ya “Hey, I don’t know how, but I’m gonna be rich when I grow up.”  Then I changed.  I refused to say “idealistic” because I believe this to be a sell out term.  I was completely and totally socialist.  No rich.  No poor.  Enough for everybody.  No, if I do become “conservative” (barf, yuck, spit) I will call myself and everyone like me a sell out.  And I’m thinking about selling out.  At least a little.  Can one be a “bit of a sell out?”

Well, to the Paul Farmers of the world (and no, Oprah and Bono, you do NOT belong in this category because the vast amounts of wealth you hang on to, far exceed what you give away (and show me the proof that your donations have made any sustainable positive change, but I’m a harsh critic.  Rest assured, I’m toughest on myself) I salute you!  You have donated all personal wealth, time, and body to helping the poor.  You are unselfish.  But I am finding, that I, in fact am.

So how will this story end?  Will I turn out to be a Wall Street, wise-ass, tight pursed business woman, or the free spirit living off the grid in some B level road in the country?  We’ll have to just wait and see what develops.

Maybe I can look the hippie, living out of the van and washing my hand-sewn clothes on a rock by a river all the while with a nice nest egg in some account online somewhere…?  Who’m I kidding?  The world is gonna fall apart in a few years anyway.  😉

Do you have financial advice for our directionless author?  If so, post in the comments section!