A long, long time ago, Midas was a king who had the ability to turn everything he touched into gold. The moral of the story proved to be very disheartening but that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about how I’ve become the anti-Midas. Everything that I touch becomes ruined.
One of the common JF frustrations that I’ve heard about is harbouring expectations of how they will contribute only to realize that they cannot contribute meaningfully in the short amount of time their placements last. I had thought that since I had no expectations from myself for this JF placement than the bare minimum, I was effectively shielding my ego and mind from potential disappointment.
I’ve now realized that a new problem has arisen with that kind of thinking. I’ve set the bar so low for myself that I’m supremely disappointed – and even ashamed – of my personal efforts.
Upon the realization that I’ve been in this country for a month already, I’ve compiled a list of things that struck me as the results of inadequate effort on my part (in that I really could’ve tried harder and these are not affected by externalities)
- My Chichewa sucks. For having been immersed in the language for a month, I think it should be better than what it is and I know that I haven’t been trying as much as I could.
- Progress on work has been underwhelmingly stellar. I really didn’t have much expectations for myself but I thought that we’d be beyond JUST a plan by now. A plan that we wrote up in the first week that I was here. And I KNOW that there are more ways that I could’ve pushed progress if I hadn’t been such a scaredy cat.
- Sometimes talking to people is like bashing my head against the wall. I’m realizing the limits of my communication skills. I simply do not have enough patience sometimes or the tact to diplomatically broach sensitive topics and navigate the politically charged waters.
- Laziness is a chronic illness. Lately I’ve just been so demotivated. And I have no legitimate reason as to why I’m not trying my best every day.
In other words… I suck.
The disparaging content above was actually written a week ago.
Things have changed since then. Most importantly, my perception has changed.
The great thing about the EWB venture (WASH Catalyst + WASH Coordination) team in Malawi is the unbelievable support. And so when I was feeling so very low, I had people to help me pick up the pieces and move forward.
I still have some reservations about work. Communication at home and at the office is still difficult. Self-motivation is still a daily challenge but the important thing is that I can accept the good days with the not-so-good days in stride. One of my fellow Malawian JFs, Brett, gave me a great tip in counting at least one win every day. So I’ve started to do that.
Today is similarly a disappointing kind of day but I can count at least one win.
Today’s Win: I have data from my field outing on Friday that can be analysed.