I’m in Africa. (thank you Claire for stating the obvious)
I’m thousands of miles away from my family.
My best friend back home just got engaged (who happens to be my sister).
I have a wonderful boyfriend in Texas.
I have a Masters Degree.
There are many well-paying jobs that I am qualified for.
I interned last summer at a large company and was able to shop all I wanted off of my lovely paycheck.
I live among 350 people in a very small space.
The food gets old.
My bed is uncomfortable.
It’s nearly impossible to have time to yourself on this ship.
I depend on donations to be able to go out and experience the city.
I can’t walk 500 yards from this ship alone because it is not safe.
For the first time in my life, I wake up every morning excited to go to work. I LOVE my job. Love it. Everything about it. It’s a dream.
Does this all measure up? How is it possible that when I lived right down the street from my family and had a decent job, I found myself completely unsatisfied? Some would say that life post-college is about the following things: finding a career. Finding a husband. Hanging out with friends who’s company you truly enjoy. Possibly going back to school, furthering your career.
Bottom Line: Discovering who you are, what you want, and how to get it.
What it should not be about: Who has the largest engagement ring. Who went on the coolest vacation. Who is the most successful. How big your house is. Peoples lives should not be measured by the kind of car your drive or the carats in your diamond. (facebook feeds this competition, and I think a facebook boycott is coming soon)
I will never forget the moment I finally admitted to myself, out loud, that I wanted to work for Mercy Ships and come to Africa. It was Christmas day. I was in Santa Fe with my mother and good friends Claire and Jeremy. We were a few glasses of wine in…and discussing career options. Claire said, “You should be a teacher! You are so creative and caring.” And I looked at her and said, You know what I really want to do? I want to work for Mercy Ships. My mom piped up—You do??
Yes, I do.
Well, where did this come from??
I don’t know, I’ve just been thinking about it a lot.
Well…then you should do it!
Sure, why not???
That was all the support I needed.
Now, not everyone is as crazy as me to up and move to Africa for three months, but one thing I’ve learned over here is that it is possible to be happy at your job. Really happy. Excited about the challenges of the day. Hell, some people would be miserable living on this ship! This would not be the right place for them. But you’ve got to find that one thing that does it for you. That clicks. That when the alarm goes off in the morning at some ungodly hour, 9 times out of 10 you say “Today’s gonna be a good day.”
I write and run all over this ship all day long. Down to post ops, out to the dock, back into the office, to starbucks for coffee, then back to the ward. I drag Tom to take photos of my patients who I’m following. But when you put it in perspective, if just one of my stories has made in impact on someone who simply mentions Mercy Ships to a friend over a lunch or a cup of coffee, then I feel like I’ve made a difference. Because the more people who know about Mercy Ships and the wonderful things they are doing, the more likely Mercy Ships will expand and thrive in the years to come.
No, living in Africa on a ship is not for everyone. But, it took me coming all the way over here and working for free to find peace and happiness when the alarm goes off at 7:00am.
And because I have found that peace, it has been well worth the sacrifice of leaving the ones I love and facing an adventure on my own.