Personal Growth

8 09 2011

There are many reasons that I wanted to come to Thailand. I wanted to travel the world, help others, learn a new culture and a new language. I wanted to meet new friends who had the same ambitions as me. I wanted to try new food, see amazing sights, and make incredible memories. Most importantly though, I think my biggest goal was personal growth.

There is no way that someone can go on this type of adventure and not grow as a person. We are thrown into a brand new world and expected to survive. We pull up personality traits and survival tactics we never knew we had. We spend days upon days alone in our heads reflecting on life, ourselves, the world. It’s impossible to do all of these things and not change.

I was very excited about the prospect of all of this change. I have been actively working on myself as an individual for a few years now, trying to find myself and who I am supposed to be … more importantly, defining who I want to be. I was so thrilled to come on this adventure and make great leaps and bounds toward those goals. For the most part, I think I have been successful.

I look at myself today and see a completely different person than on day one of this adventure. The girl that walked off the plan on January 12th of this year is not even close to the one you would see standing in front of you today, nearly eight months later. I am more confident, more independent, more resilient. I am more creative, more insightful, more accepting. I am more open to the world around me and more in tune with the person inside me. I have grown in so many ways and changed in so many others. I am proud of that.

All this change though can be difficult.

In Thailand, I live in this world alone. I do not share my daily life with anyone. I see my fellow volunteers from time to time, but those experiences are not indications of “the norm”. We get together in Bangkok, go crazy, and then head back to site. The daily me – the one who gets up, goes to work, interacts with the community, cooks food, writes lesson plans, watches movies, reads books, updates her blog – is a person no one gets to see. I am in my own world. I live an individual life.

I notice these changes in myself on a regular basis and I am proud of them. However, I do not get to share them. The volunteers here have only ever known “this” me. The changes are not drastic to them and let’s face it, they don’t notice the changes because they are too busy noticing their own. The people back in America have no idea either. They have no way of understanding just how far I have come or just how different I am. I can explain until the cows come home but until I head back, start my life again there, and share this person with the world, they will never know.

I wish they could know. I wish my friends and family back home could be flies on the wall of my life for a few days, watching me work, interact, and live. I wish they could see these changes, and more importantly, I wish they could validate them. I wish they could tell me “wow, you have come such a long way!” That would do a lot for me in this situation. We question all the time whether this experience is worth it, whether we are doing anything useful here, whether this is where we belong. I think validation of personal growth would help a lot of us, make us realize how much this experience has already impacted us and how much further we have to go.

Whether I ever receive that validation or not I will continue to work on myself every single day. If I have learned one thing in Thailand, it’s that you never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop changing. I look forward to that.



One response

8 09 2011
Alison Lockwood

Having watched your Peace Corp adventure from afar, I can assure you that your growth has been witnessed–and admired–by people you don’t even know. It’s such an amazing thing, what you’re doing. The fact that your expectations didn’t quite match up with reality makes your journey all the more poignant to those of us back home. We all know what it’s like, pinning our hopes on a specific dream, only to find out that life has something completely different in store. The true test of character is how you deal with the disappointments, the twists in the road–and you’ve proven your mettle. I envy you, Ky, I really do. Don’t worry about the validation; you’ve already earned it, and more. Keep up the good work, and keep us posted.

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