Seeing Aaron go was very difficult because we have spent our entire lives together: in school, at church, on swim team, and we even worked together for a while.  Unlike many feuding siblings I know, we actually like hanging out together too!  What I will miss most about Aaron is his friendship.  My brothers and I together make such a great team.  With him gone, I feel as if a big chunk of my life is missing, so–to echo my other family members–saying goodbye was HARD.

But there was another reason why last weekend was so difficult.  Throughout the going-away festivities, I did what any single 22-year-old does best: make everything about herself.  While everyone around me–friends, family, peers, church leaders that I had grown up with–was celebrating Aaron’s life decisions to go on a mission, several people were incredibly callous when I shared mine with them.  This has happened before, so I was not surprised, but it didn’t make it any less hurtful.  When I told these people what my post-grad plans were and where in the world they would take me, I was either warned that I would be endangered or mistreated (based only on the fact that I was going to a Muslim country) or that I would be wasting away the precious years of my youth.  These people I spoke with seemed to be unwilling to celebrate my life decisions–in fact, many failed to understand why I would want to do something like Peace Corps at all–and I felt foolish as I tried to explain my reasoning.  I didn’t expect people to jump up and down about my life goals, but to dismiss them right in front of me was a different story.

I spoke with my mother that night.  Unfortunately, I had let these few people infiltrate my mind and give me some serious doubts about whether this was the right thing to do.  Really, these doubts had existed for a long time, but now they were blown out of proportion.  Would I be safe?  Would I be happy?  What if this was a huge mistake and I came back broken and miserable?  Why didn’t I just find a 9-5 job or settle down and get married?  Why didn’t I just do something less costly, less risky, more secure?  My mother, who is excellent in these types of situations, said something to the effect of: “Ignore those bigots and do what you think is right.”  As usual, it was excellent advice.

The day I was scheduled to fly back up to Oregon I came across this Celtic proverb: Those too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage yours.  It seemed to apply almost too well to my situation.  People are always going to oppose you.  People are always going to think what you’re doing is wrong.  People, because of their own limitations, will never be able to understand what is taking place inside the minds of others.  And then, for the first time, I realized: Aaron probably went through the exact same thing!  Who am I to declare, because he had a big happy farewell speech and a party one afternoon, that he didn’t have the same difficulties in his decision-making process that I am encountering now?  He probably–no, most definitely–had the same worries as I do.  He may have even faced some opposition.  My admiration for my brother only increased when I realized that his decision must have been just as difficult and yet he was still so excited to serve.

My theory was further confirmed when, the following Sunday, one of my friends returned from her mission and gave a homecoming talk in my ward.  She described how apathetic her family had been prior to her departure for her mission–her non-member parents and brothers had given her little to no support in her decision–and how greatly that tempted her to just make her life simpler and stay home.  I had another breakthrough when I realized that even though people who didn’t understand me were quick to tell me they didn’t support my decisions, at least my family does.  I can’t emphasize enough how reassuring it is that my mother and father–and the vast majority of other people in my life who have been encouraging throughout this process–support me in my decision to serve my country in the Peace Corps.  I realized further that they have always supported me, and how lucky I am to have their comfort.

In conclusion: don’t let people who lead small lives deter you from living large.  A second conclusion: everyone struggles in life, so just leave them alone.  And the most important conclusion: my family ROCKS.

About Kate

24-year-old University of Oregon alum. Extreme moderate. Sports enthusiast, fashionista (but only in my imagination), history buff, foodie, and gypsy. I laugh at everything.
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11 Responses to Doubt

  1. Cheryl says:

    You know, Kiddo–I’m not sure how much we “rock.” You know we have plenty of faults here in the Snow household. That being said, it is really important that you know that unless you’e doing something we consider destructive, we will consistently support you! And, I think you’re right–Aaron was in plenty of situations where he was surrounded by negativity for his choices. I’m glad you guys continue to forge ahead. It’s what we all need to do.

  2. Your family DOES rock! One of the best things I ever did was to leave the “norm”, move to Guatemala for over a year and teach English and Art to little adorable Spanish speaking kids. My life has never been the same. I am a better person for ignoring the non-believers, following my heart and my dreams. Amazing things happen when you let yourself “live large.” You go girl! Best of luck to you and your upcoming adventure!

  3. Jessie hafen lemon says:

    Your mom is so smart and right
    You go girl! Go and show how you dont just hope for a better world, but actually work for it. I am proud of ya!!

  4. Jecia says:

    You know, a year from now you can either just be a year older or you can be a member of the Peace Corps with experiences and challenges and memories under your belt. I think you’ve made the wise decision 🙂

  5. marsha jefferies says:

    I remember when you were a little girl and wanted to be called “Misha”–and guess what, that is what we all called you. I thought to myself, “There is a little girl that goes after what she wants.” I was even more surprised and delighted that your parents just went right along with it! You have grown into a lovely young woman who still knows what she wants and is willing to go after it. I admire your courage. What a wonderful and exciting adventure! You will be fabulous at whatever you do–proud to know you and your family!

  6. Jodi Christensen says:

    I’ve admired your family from close up to a medium distance away and you are on exactly the right track for “you”! Be true to yourself and your values and you will have an incredibly life.. And yes, your family ROCKS!! They, you, Aaron always have and always will….. =O)

  7. John & Monica Schlegel says:

    What a nice tribute to you and your family. As RPCV’s, we will tell you this will be one of your most treasured life experiences & you will make friends & have experiences that will be with you forever! Best wishes in your travels!
    The Schlegel’s
    (former RTC & Clark Co. employees)

    • Cheryl says:

      John and Monica:
      I remember you from years ago–I had no idea you were RPCV’s. Thank you so much for your encouragement! We are very excited for our daughter, but it is also a bit emotional, as I’m sure you know.

  8. paul vanderwal says:

    Ms. Kathryn,
    Touching writing and amazing insight. I went to school (yes, YEARS ago) with your Mom and can testify that yes, she’s always been great at seeing through this kind of social junk that the world like to throw in your way. And I can tell from your writing that your lucky enough to have that combo of sensitivity to others and drive to do what’s right for you. Kudos, congrats and enjoy your life.

    • Cheryl says:

      You are always such the thoughtful guy. I will tell my daughter what a great example to all of us you were in high school. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  9. Pingback: “Oodles” | Ride the Wave

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