I need to stop looking forward. Since that anxiety filled December day when I stood in the Cub Foods parking lot, listening to a voice on the other end of the phone telling me I was accepted into Global Citizen Year, all I have been doing is “looking forward.” Looking forward to finding my country placement, looking forward to seeing who was in my country cohort, looking forward to Fall Training at Stanford, and finally looking forward to getting to Senegal. Senegal, I thought, was my final destination.
In my head, I pictured getting to Dakar and loving every moment and being overjoyed with everything that would happen here. But once again, I find myself looking forward. Looking forward to October when I move to the small village in Kedougou where I will be living for the next 6 months. Looking forward to understanding parts of the culture that are still a mystery to me. Looking forward to the day that I will be able to have a simple conversation in Pulaar. Looking forward to my apprenticeships and becoming part of the family I will call my own.
And what happens after that? Once I get there, once all of these pieces finally fall into place, what happens then? Do I look forward to reuniting with the other Fellows and coming home? Of course I look forward to that, but it’s too soon. It doesn’t feel right to be looking that far into the future with so much lying right in front of me. I haven’t even been out of the US for a month and my mind is already 6.5 months ahead.
Looking forward gives me an outlet. Thinking about home allows me to take my mind off of the things in Dakar that are so new, unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me. Being uncomfortable is part of what will make this year so valuable, if I ignore all of my discomforts and keeping looking towards things that I paint such beautiful pictures of in my head, this year will be nothing but a let down.
The people, places and things that I experience this year may or may not live up to what I expect them to be, but I want to appreciate this year and everything that comes along with it, good, bad and ugly. I need to accept the unknown that lies ahead because so many things are going to happen this year that I cannot even imagine right now, and those are the things that I hope to look back on with the fondest memories.
This, right now, is the experience that I have been looking forward to since December; it’s finally here, and I don’t want to miss it.