Last month I had to pull together a presentation about my time spent in Sri Lanka during the fellowship, reflecting on work, life and my goals. It was hard. How was I supposed to synthesize this important time in my life into a quick 10-minute presentation? Instead of trying to fully describe what I considered my “rollercoaster of emotions” during this experience, I decided I would graph it. Using my personal journal as a guide, I plotted my level of happiness against the last 6 months.
Although the graph is pretty self-explanatory, below I’ve provided a little more detail to fully understand the ups and downs of what you see:
July: I’m here. I’ve made it. Finally. What’s that smell? I don’t care!
August: A creeping dread starts to settle in that I am going to miss everyone and everything, including the NBA.
September: Have I made a huge mistake? I’ve made a huge mistake. What am I going to do after this? It’s at this point that I started to get really nervous because I had left my long term job behind with no concrete plan for the future. It’s also at this point where a work opportunity presented itself for me to extend my stay. I went back and forth in my mind 100 times. Did I want this? I think I did.
October: I asked two important people in my life for advice and they hit me with: “Don’t come back” and “It’s okay if you don’t fit in.” Hearing those words I was immediately freed from a lot of the anxiety I was feeling. There was a reason why I came here and I didn’t need to change who I was to do it. With this newfound confidence I felt rejuvinated at work. I was finally breaking past the steep part of the learning curve of working in a new country. Things were starting to click into place. I decided I wanted to stay.
November: I was only able to pull myself out of my Trump-induced misery through creativity. I rediscovered art as a means of expression for myself. At the same time, I was gaining traction in the work I was doing, finding new and interesting ways to convey information in Sri Lanka. I felt buoyed by these constructive and good things. I started my new work visa application.
December and beyond: I never expected to gain as much as I did. I have developed strong relationships here with family I had never met and with friends I never knew I needed until now. I am sad that this part of this experience, this fellowship, is coming to an end but I feel energized and ready for the next chapter.