Over the past six months (and actually longer), I have watched Kathryn run the Peace Corps gauntlet. I have watched her deal with being an adult living in her parents’ house (not recommended for the average independent person, btw), frustrating government bureaucracy, and general uncertainty. She has suffered, which is pretty typical when you sign up to have other people make major life decisions for you.
What has surprised me, however, is the difficulty she has had dealing with otherwise friendly folks being generally negative and unsupportive of her decision. For month after month, she (and her parents quite often), upon explaining to someone what her plans were, would often get an immediate reaction, often surrounding the “fact” that what she was doing was dangerous and unwise. It was always such a puzzle to me that people would react in such a way. It was hurtful to us and made all of us clam up about something that we were actually very excited about. There were times that I felt incredibly alone in our plans.
At home, we talked a lot about why people were being so reactive about something that they themselves weren’t even involved in. We suspect that people in general fear the unknown. No one I know here in Southern Nevada has had any experience with the Peace Corps: most have never traveled outside the United States. And even though there is some evidence we live in a much more dangerous country than most, simply the fact that someone has never visited Albania (or, even worse, her first choices of Morocco or Jordan) means that to them her decision is rash and her life is in peril. Terror lurks in the darker corners of the imagination. We bore the brunt of that over the past six months.
To those of our friends who were nothing but supportive, I would like to publicly thank you. You have no idea the ray of sunshine you were to us. I have learned through all of this to be happy for everyone’s decisions, whether I agree with them or not. I do this because 1) it is none of my business what other people want to do with their life, and 2) it is a big risk sharing plans with people, and I want people to feel safe when they share their plans with me.
So, let me just go on record: I am intensely proud of my daughter and support her wholeheartedly. She has handled the adversity and the bureaucracy with great aplomb and has demonstrated a keen ability to do what she knows is right for her. I am absolutely certain that this is her path, and I look forward to seeing how much we all grow from her decision. As I have said before, my childrens’ choices always help my world get bigger. It is a wonderful thing to see your children exceed you in life: I think it is what we all hope for. So, yes, I am proud of you, Kat. No matter what the next two years bring, you have already established yourself as one of the bravest people I know.
I agree 100% with every word. My brave daughter is having the time of her life and loving every minute of her time at Bethlehem University, West Bank, Israel. We heard the same warnings and fearful reactions. We give thanks to all for their kind concern–but we don’t want to miss life’s greatest adventures and learning experiences–it’s what makes life worth living. Susan Gilbert
P.S. Can’t make it to the “adventure begins” party, but my happy thoughts and encouragement go with her!!
Awesome. Can’t wait to hear about her experience!
I’m so sad for Kathryn that she’s had such unsupportive and unhelpful responses. I’ll never understand why people say rude things to other people, especially when those rude things are a judgment on someone else’s good decisions. We’re all armchair quarterbacks at points in our lives, but at least some of us aren’t tacky enough to say things publicly.
I’m so excited for her to do this, and I also look forward to her updates.
I hope she has a wonderful, enlightening, and enjoyable experience.
The interesting thing has been that the people who are unsupportive really had no idea they were being rude. I think their intent was to register concern, but given that they had absolutely NO evidence to support their concern, it ended up just being sort of bizarre and incredibly unhelpful. Our home teacher, when Aaron was getting his mission call and I was saying I was hoping he would stay in the States (mostly for logistical reasons–mailing packages, debit cards, etc.), said, “Well yes, stay in the States. It’s not safe in other countries.” A very bizarre statement when you think about it. EVERYWHERE is unsafe? It is a curious opinion to have.
It really does make me wonder what generalizations I am making that are squashing other peoples’ aspirations and making me a dud to talk to.
Pingback: “Support” | WildKat Formation
Wow! I can not believe that people were so unsupportive and rude. Your daughter is indeed brave. She is also unselfish and obviously very selfaware and kind. I look forward to her updates.
Thank you Shari! I think quite often people can be ‘rude’ without really intending to. That being said, it was still quite difficult to watch.