There are seasons in life that are a lot more challenging than others. They’re the moments or strings of moments that really break you down, make you think, and challenge you in new ways.
April was quite the season.
The most frustrating part of the last thirty days was not the nausea. It wasn’t the full body rash or the 104-degree fever. It wasn’t being bed ridden, having horrible insomnia or the knee injury I sustained because my joints are so weak.
The hardest part? It was slowing down and giving up control. My body was telling me I needed to stop, but my head was saying “What if people are mad because you’re not working? You’re letting your students down by not being able to teach them. People are going to think you’re lazy or faking it. Push through it. You’ll be fine.” But every time I tried to push through, the virus relapsed. Every time I tried to be better before I was better, I was knocked right back down. Which, if I can be completely honest, was super frustrating.
But being sick for an entire month as taught me a few things:
1. It’s okay to receive help. I do not like inconveniencing people. I try to avoid it at all costs, but when I got sick so many people wanted to know how they could help out. I had offers for food, laundry, cleaning my house. I didn’t want to be needy so I politely declined at first, but then the sickness got worse and I had to start saying yes. Neighbors brought over food, gave me rides to the pharmacy/hospital, people prayed for me, and many went out of their way to make sure I was okay. It was super humbling and looking back I feel very grateful for the people in my life here.
2. I cannot do everything. Not working was really hard. I live on the school campus so every day I heard my students’ laughter and the sounds that accompany learning going on. And not being a part of that was really hard. Talk about your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It became a daily struggle knowing that I needed to rest but so badly wanting to be in the classroom playing silly games and giggling with my students.
3. My health is more important than work. While I was sick my co-teachers checked on me every day. Fefe puke? (How’s your sick?) was the daily question. I think they could see how frustrating it was for me to be stuck in my house. They kept saying, “Do not worry. We are fine. The kids will learn. You need to rest. How can you teach if you’re dead?” This is true. And these conversations reminded me a lot of teaching in the States and the (unhealthy) habits I developed surrounding sickness and work (I would often go into work when I probably should have stayed home and rested).
4. Be grateful for everything. I had to dig really deep the last month in terms of finding little things to be grateful for. Not having much of an appetite, not talking to many people, and spending hours and hours bed ridden is tough on the mind, but I felt a shift in my health once I started picking small things that I was grateful for. At one point I was even grateful for the sickness itself because it was a reminder of how I take my health for granted. Resting also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my Peace Corps service and the memories and “gifts” I will take with me when I leave this place.
I really believe that within every situation or season in life, there is a lesson to be learned. And even though it was a tough one, I’m glad April happened this way. It’s provided me with a renewed hunger for being here - a chance to refocus and reenergize as I enter the last few months of my Peace Corps service. A fresh start to give love and help others out.
And I’m also reminded of that old saying… how does it go?
April showers bring May flowers.
Here’s hoping that May is a bit brighter than April!