Author’s note: My previous posts give this post a bit of context – take a look!
I spent a lot of the last year terrified that the next time I came to Kenya would somehow be my last. I worried that once I got a job, I wouldn’t make enough money for international travel, let alone have enough time off to enjoy it. I worried that I couldn’t get a job that let me travel to Kenya or the region in general as part of my work, and I didn’t consider working IN Kenya because I felt that I’d already spent too much time away and I needed to be closer to family. I put rules, restrictions and fears at the forefront of my future outlook – and I hadn’t even started to apply for jobs yet.
I needed to return to Kenya to finish my M.A. project but I was running out of money and even shorter on inspiration. I went ahead and bought my ticket, planned for as much time as I figured I’d need to finish (10 weeks) and tried to keep the anxiety at bay. Then, just before my outbound flight, an amazing fellowship opportunity came up in Ghana, and my return to Kenya was shortened to 10 days before I flew back across the continent to dive into 3 months of full-time work. The M.A. project got put on hold (again), but something far more important happened – I started to realize that the future did not have to be as scary or limiting as I was making it.
In Ghana I spent three months meeting people from all over the world working the full gamut of my sector (development) in every type of contract or position possible. I met people who were younger and less experienced than me doing jobs I hadn’t let myself dream about, and a few who were older than me who had even less traditional backgrounds than I did. I learned that each person’s path was different: some followed the tried and true method of top schools, handfuls of in-demand degrees and the perfect mix of internships and opportunities, while others sort of wiggled their way in. Over time I learned to strip away the ridiculous boundaries I had built around my future, finally getting to a point of letting each step be what it is – a simple movement that may or may not be the right one. No matter what – you move forward, you learn. No direction can’t be undone, no pedigree (or lack thereof) in and of itself determines the future. You do. I do.
So here I am, three and a half months after flying out of SFO – back in Kenya with a paying job, doing work I love with the opportunity to base here but spend a significant portion of time in the U.S. Could I have dreamed this in a million years? Would I have let myself believe that this sort of opportunity existed for me? I cringe to think that 10 months ago…six months ago…I couldn’t fathom it.
I think I get it now. The self-help adage is true – PUT IT OUT THERE. Don’t be afraid to tell the world/universe/God/the unknown what you want – even when it seems impossible. Give voice to your fears, but for God’s sake – stop letting them make decisions for you. Your dream life is out there – take a step and let it happen.