Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Little Gish Back in a Big Pond

Writing a final blog can be intimidating. That's perhaps the reason why it's been exactly a month since coming home, and I still have yet to post anything. There is pressure to have something really wise to say and future plans to parade. Every time I think I'll sit down and write about everything I've learned, I decide that watching an episode of Top Gear is a way better use of my time. Besides, I don't have any future plans yet, and I always feel an edge of snootiness when talking about "thethingslivingabroadhastaughtme." I don't really think there's anything I can say that hasn't been said way more articulately by my fellow Fellows. So go read their blogs. Seriously, I have, and they are good. 

If fact, the only reason I finally forced myself to turn off Netflicks is because of a quote from my friend Deirdre's blog that finally inspired me. Behold:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

THAT'S IT! (Watch this clip for full Lucy-effect)

One of the more popular questions I get from friends and family is, "What do you miss the most?" I ramble through a totally predictable list: friends, some foods, cheap massages, cheap everything, etc. But this quote gets at a truth that a whole month of reflection (cough: TopGear-watching) didn't reveal. I really liked who I was in Indonesia. I loved the work that I did. I loved the hobbies that I did. And, I loved the people surrounding me during both of those activities. I was a big fish in a little pond by the end. I was traveling the country for the Embassy (the EMBASSY), and I was placing in nearly every triathlon I entered (extreme height advantage). Since being home, my big ideals of going bigger and better in the next chapter have shrunk to aspirations of mediocrity and justaslongasthere'shealthcare. My ego deflates just a little bit more every time I fill out another application for part-time work doing the exact same thing I did before leaving for Indonesia. I'm back to being just a little Gish in a big, big pond. 

But then this happened: 
I turned 30 and decided to celebrate by putting on a uni-tard and jumping into Lake Erie. I had to face my fears of joining my first-ever American triathlon eventually. With height advantage gone, I figured I'd be sent to the middle of the pack. My friend and fellow 30-year-old-repatriate, Tabitha, came up from Columbus to offer moral support and join the race. 
We raced. We finished. We high-fived. Then, we decided to go shower and celebrate our mediocrity with chicken waffles and gospel music. Before we left the race area, I wanted to swing by the results board just for another kick to my ego. Much to my wide-eyed surprise, this is what I saw:
We totally rocked it! We weren't mediocre at all! All I could think was that the work that we put in while in Indonesia really transferred over well to America. This, of course, is the point at which I make my triathlon a metaphor for life. Wait for it....

If some part of the awesome-Indonesia me was able to show up again during a triathlon, then it must hold true that other parts of my life will see similar results. I don't have to miss the old me because I can count on just building on everything that version of me learned. It was an identity that didn't just end the minute I got on the airplane to come home. It's just a great base for the new identity that I'm going to rock in America. 

So, yeah, I'm still a little fish, but I've got a lot to go on. And, having some (a ton) of room to grow is never a bad thing. Cheers to the old me - you'll never be forgotten, and cheers to the new 30-something me - at least you still look good in a uni-tard. 


  1. YEEAAHHHH! You guys rock!! Can't wait to see you on the 10th!!

  2. Thank you for sharing stories about your travels, adventures, and transition home :)

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