Dear Potential Peace Corps Applicants (or anyone applying for anything),
Some days you’re going to feel really excited and confident about the journey ahead, but then other days you’re going to feel really stressed and anxious about the possibility of it all being wrong. 80% of the time, you’ll probably question if what you’re doing is the right thing, but don’t let time or difficult circumstances distract you from achieving your dreams. Stay committed to your cause.
Your reason for applying in the first place is not limited by any organization. So if it takes you on a different path, it’ll still get you to where you’re going. But if you’re left to endure the Peace Corps process, then I hope my insight will help you feel a little more normal and encourage you to hang on.
DURING THE WAIT: Once you’ve been invited to serve in the Peace Corps (pending legal/medical clearance), the wait isn’t over. It’s definitely a small victory of sorts, but honey, you’ve got a lot of expenses and appointments and emails and visits to CVS, Walmart, REI, and Target ahead of you. My advice? Take every doctor’s visit, every bill, every panic filled moment one at a time. Soon five months will become five days.
ORGANIZE SMORGANIZE: I’ve never been an organized person. I’m the kind of gal who fills the first week of her brand new planner with punctuality and productivity, but for the rest of the year, those sad little squares remain blank. However with the amount of paper work, medical appointments, and deadlines involved in joining the Peace Corps… I had to become one. If you like to make lists and your brain is tightly organized all the time, then you’re already ahead of the game. If you’re not, well, you’re about to learn.
PACK YOUR SANITY: I’ve packed and re-packed my luggage at least four times. It sounds pretty excessive (because it is), but I am the queen of under-packing. I’ve also had more internal wars with myself in the middle of stores than a normal person should in a year. Now I don’t encourage this kind of behavior, but if you do end up standing in front of the socks section for more than 30 minutes because you can’t decide which pairs are cheaper and better for 90 degree weather, just know you’re not crazy. It happens.
BREATHE, IT’S IMPORTANT: In the days leading up to my departure, I’ve started feeling very unprepared for my service. Some serious fears of failure were sinking in. I mean, what the heck have I been doing these last couple of months?! I’ll tell what I’ve been doing—I’ve been enjoying these last little moments I have with my friends, my family, and my favorite food before it all changes. In a brief moment of panic, a sweet friend of my reminded me that I’ve already been chosen for the Peace Corps. That includes what I don’t know and can’t do. With that said, just breathe. In and out. We’re gonna be fine.
I’m really excited for what you’re about to begin. I think that you’ll learn a lot about yourself and how impactful it is to share it with the world. It’ll be tough, but it’ll be worth it. At least that’s how I see it just days away from my own Peace Corps experience in Guyana.
PEACE CORPS TIMELINE
- january 2016: I started my Peace Corps application
- february: The Peace Corps was my little secret during this time.
- end of march: I finished my application + personal statement.
- april: I finally told people and panicked a little.
- may 27th: I was selected to interview to be a Health Volunteer in Guyana.
- june 8th: MY INTERVIEW!! It was supposed to be a Skype interview, so you can imagine my the horrifying panic I had when it wasn’t working. However, it went well and it was casual. Did I mention it was 90 minutes long? Yea…
- june 29th: I was officially invited to serve with the Peace Corps (pending medical/legal clearance). If you cry and scream and don’t know what to do with yourself, it’s ok. I did.
- july & august: medical appointments, vaccinations, writing out to-do lists, online forums/education, and more tedious little things before the peace corps.
- september: turned in all of my medical documents, visa requirements, and legal kit. But then, the worst part of the waiting began…
- october: waiting impatiently and anxiously. ANY DAY NOW, PEOPLE!
- november: ugh, still waiting and still freaking out about my future
- december: finally received my medical clearance!!! I was a normal person again.
- january 2017: spend time with friends, family, and my favorite foods while getting ready to depart for staging at the end of the month.