It’s something that I’ve struggled with my entire life. However, I’m hoping that 2015 will be the time that I finally master patience. As a kid, I never had the ability. I think it even sparked my interest in running because I thought – why bother walking when I can run and get there faster? I can do my homework early and then do what I want. I can work hard so that I can have free time. I don’t need to wait for someone else when I can do it myself. Furthermore, patience has been a struggle for me because my lack of patience has propelled me to do so many things. My lack of patience has kept me moving and ready, I never sit back and wait for things to happen. Previously, I thought that my time in Madagascar had taught me to be more patient, but I think I mistook patience for resiliency. I could wait around longer; I can still sit in a car for 12 hours without regular music or things to do. I learned to put up with things that I don’t have control over. However, I feel that patience is using that type of resiliency as a tool rather than a defense mechanism, something to use to my advantage rather than merely coping with my surrounding situation.

However, the longer that I stay at this post the more I realize that all of the positive that my lack of patience offers, the ability to be patient will probably take me farther. I really need to learn to take more steps back and let people do what they want/ think they need to do. So for next year I will make a push to be more patient, to be conscious of it every day in order to balance that which is available with what I am hoping to see.

This concept mostly stems from the fact that I’ve found the past two and a half months difficult. Not difficult enough to dissuade me from questioning if this line of work is what I want to do, but difficult in the sense that sometimes I do feel helpless. I often feel like I’m not doing something right, that I’m missing something. As a result, I have engaged in a few arguments with coworkers (all which were easily resolved by talking). But it’s not who I want to be and it’s not how I want to interact with my coworkers. There are always going to be things that I disagree with and that I question, but what I realized after a serious argument with a supervisor is that it didn’t make any sense; we were arguing in a way that wasn’t beneficial to anyone (and thankfully she realized that as well).

What’s interesting about this is that in many ways I feel it made me more real to my coworkers. They’ve seen me be nice and they’ve seen me upset: they know that I’m not faking my emotions or holding anything back. I think this because I’ve been able to have these arguments and then later talk with the people about the problems so that we could move forward. Amazingly, our work relationships have improved tremendously following these arguments. Regardless of how I acted, or how they acted, I feel like we’re moving forward in the right direction and I’m eager to see what next year will bring. The workers at the farm are the most recent example as they’ve worked around the holidays and even worked when I was working (and they didn’t really want to), and did it without complaining. They understand that when I want something to happen that I’m serious about it and I’ll push myself to make it happen. I think they’re catching on and willing to help me help them to make things happen as well.

I finally got my water situation fixed and I forgot how wonderful life is when you have access to water. Getting back to being resilient, I just accepted the fact that I needed to take a wheel burrow with two containers and plan my life accordingly so that I could drink, eat, and bathe as needed. I also didn’t realize the complete stress that it was putting on my host family until it was almost too late and our relationship was starting to deteriorate. I can’t help but wonder if this factored into any of the emotions within the office this past month, as they were responsible for sorting out the water issue. But with water available, the family seems happy and tensions have gone down to zero as far as I’m concerned.

The more time that I spend here the more social I become and the more people I meet, but it amazes me how much that I’m getting attached to the children. Maybe it is just me getting older and becoming more mature, but I really do enjoy these kids. What’s more amazing is that they just keep wanting to hang out with me and I don’t have the ability to say no. It’s really not that difficult to just play with them for 30 minutes or so and then I just say that I’m tired and they give me a break (sometimes with me closing my door on them).

As far as the community goes, I’m starting to know more people, and whether they like me or not, I think they are getting used to me. They realize that I’m not out to judge them. I really like hanging out with one of my friends because it’s clear that he’s not there to take care of me. He definitely watches out for my well-being and I trust him in that regard, but he doesn’t care if I’m enjoying myself or not. It’s like if you want to hang out, we hang out and that’s that. Sometimes it’s a bit much when a person always wants to take care of you and cater to your every need. Most of the time I’d rather just fade into the background and watch the world move along – it’s much more interesting.

My keyhole garden is built and I planted spinach, broccoli, carrots, and a few sunflowers. We’ll see what actually grows, but it looks really cool with all of the different colored bottles and more and more people are complimenting me on it. They don’t even care if the vegetables grow; they just think that it looks cool! I’m hoping that some of the seeds germinate (I got them a little while ago and I’m not sure under what conditions they were held) and that it is actually functional and not just aesthetically pleasing. One woman from work saw the garden and she said she was interested in making one at her house. I think it would be great if it caught on so I’ll have to remind her about it in a few weeks in case she doesn’t say anything.

One day at the farm, a few of the workers were discussing trust and I found the conversation to be very interesting. Basically, what they told me was to trust no one and love everyone. I told them that they couldn’t really love someone if they didn’t trust them, but they disagreed. Obviously, this includes romantic relationships and so HIV has to be considered. It’s interesting how many people have multiple girlfriends and boyfriends and it’s not thought of as strange. That as long as you respect the woman in the sense that you’re not caught then it’s okay. I’m not sure how the women feel about this mostly because I’m getting this from men. I met a girl a few days ago that said that she is in love with one man and she will marry him, but she was talking about her other boyfriends before that so I’m not really sure how that all works out.

However, what interests me about this is that most of the youth go through this “love” trust phase and then enter the work world. I can’t help but wonder if it plays a role in how they function in work and the level of trust one has in their coworkers to do their job or act appropriately. That you grow up not trusting people and that you can’t count on others to do their job and truly work as a team.

Which brings me to something that I like to call the Tracy Jordan complex. I’ve been re-watching 30 Rock and I remember the episode where it was leaked to the news that the character Tracy Jordan – despite always been seen at strip clubs and being obnoxious – had never cheated on his wife. Of course, he was freaking out because he needed to protect his image. I sometimes wonder if that exists here and the people just don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of guys who sleep around, but I sometimes wonder if some of the men just talk about having girlfriends and maybe flirt a little bit, but at the end of the day they stay monogamous. Maybe for some they feel like they have to be this way to conform to the local culture.

But who knows, it’s all speculation on my part and obviously there isn’t any concrete data of any kind to back up anything that I’ve been saying.

Christmas came and went and I really enjoyed it. It was my 5th Christmas in a row away from home and family, but as the years progress it becomes easier and easier. I think that last year was the most difficult only because my peer group left to see their families in different countries at Christmas. It’s always easier when the families are around locally and they just invite you to hang out. The music in the village is an ever constant pounding that I’m certain has intensified over the past few weeks. It made me realize that I listen to music in my house because it drowns out the thumping of the tavern down the street. But there’s just a lot of eating, drinking, music, and dancing; and none of the Santa nonsense. People spend money on new clothes and the parties and that’s it. I had three days of fun with various friends in the area, without any set plans. For New Year I don’t have any plans either, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy whatever the village provides. But I might join the January club that has no money as most people tell me that they spend everything in December and that January is the longest month.

Regardless of all of the ups and downs of this year, I have to say that 2014 was a good year and significantly better than 2013. I’m looking forward to 2015 and what’s to happen. But of course, I can only wait patiently and see what the next 12 months have in store.

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