World Bridges

In the past year or so I have been going through my “quarter-life crisis.” It has been two years since I graduated college and I have been kind of searching for what to do next. I have been looking for and applying for certain jobs within my field of journalism, to no avail. A lot of the opportunities out there are more part-time, internship type jobs, many unpaid or with just a little stipend provided. As of right now I still serve tables and I freelance for a neighborhood paper, The Castro Courier.

In searching for what to do with my life I have come up with many different life-plans. At one point or another I have considered moving to New York, Australia and Hawaii, joining the Peace Corps and Ameri-Corps, moving to Sacramento and Portland, joining a cult, and selling all of my stuff to buy a car and just driving around the country until I found something I like. But as quickly as I get excited about each of these plans, I just as quickly dismiss them for any number of reasons. So in sitting around trying to figure out something to do, I do so much searching and questioning that the years are going by and I haven’t done shit.

I let fear rule my life more than anyone knows.

Of all of my plans above I most considered joining the Peace Corps. I even have an active application to the program. But 27 months seemed to be a super long commitment to just throw myself into, and commitment is not one of my strong points. What I do know is that I want to travel, because I have done very little, and have yet to travel outside the U.S.

As an alternative to the Peace Corps, I recently applied and was accepted into a program called World Bridges. World Bridges is an organization based in Oakland, CA, dedicated to giving young people of color and from a low-income background global perspective concentrating on social justice. They give training on these issues as well as how to travel abroad, from simply how to exchange currency to assimilating into another culture and exchanging cultural differences during your stay. World Bridges gives financial support to participants so they can take part in a work camp in another country.

My friend Jackie took part last year and went to Kenya to work in a school for three weeks.

A couple dozen people applied and only ten spots were available for funding, while three more people became alternates. Alternates will get funding should someone in the main group drop out. I am alternate #2.

So this is a great opportunity and I should be super excited, right? I certainly was when I was applying. But now my fear and neurosis and anxiety are kicking in.

I was not able to attend the main group interview, so I did not get to get a feel of what the people taking part would be like. I went to the orientation last week and got to meet everyone for the first time. I was instantly uncomfortable.

First of all, this program is for young people of color. I am young, but these people are hella young. The ages of the other participants, from what I gathered from us just talking, are about 18-23. I’m turning 26 in a few days. I am also the only white person there, which is not a problem for me in terms of color, but as far as cultural involvement I was totally the odd one out.

Every single one of the participants are deeply rooted in their culture and community. They all work at organizations to improve and empower their community, mostly grassroots operations. They are all very passionate about what they do and all have very clear reasons of why they are taking part in the World Bridges program. They are all amazing….and intimidating in the terms of this program.

As I was listening to them speak and getting to hear some of their backgrounds, I did not want to open my mouth to speak. During my interview process I spoke about the volunteer work I did when I was in high school and my struggles being the only gay kid at a very small high school in a very small town. I was very passionate back then about what I was doing.

Um, but that was, like, a really long time ago. I haven’t really felt oppressed like that for a long time and once I went to college and became a big stoner, my volunteer worker status was switched to inactive and has never been flipped back since.

During the orientation we went around the circle and we had to say what our biggest hope and fear is about the program. I was honest with them. I said at that moment I was feeling very nervous and scared and intimidated. I said I was in a room with a lot of very passionate people and that I’m not even sure how I got a spot in the program. And I told them that my first instinct was to get the hell out of dodge. My biggest fear, I stated, was that my fear would take hold of me and I would quit.

So since that meeting last Saturday, I have been going back and forth with myself about whether I should drop out or not. I have come up with a million excuses to quit: the time commitment is tremendous, with monthly meetings and retreats and we have to complete 48 hours at an internship. Also I have to do a lot of fundraising to take part, since I don’t get financial backing. I’ve told myself that this will prevent me from moving to Hawaii, as I have recently “decided” to do and that it will prevent me, also, from finding that 9-5 job I haven’t been looking for.

But my real reasons for not wanting to continue in the program definitely go deeper than I want to admit. I’ve been telling myself in the past year that I’m bored and I want a change. Maybe I’m scared about how much this program is going to challenge me. People say all good change is almost always uncomfortable to go through. I mean, I was uncomfortable just sitting in the room with the other participants before the meeting started. I felt like an outsider, something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Maybe I don’t want to admit why I truly felt uncomfortable or am nervous about what I’m going to learn about myself and how that will change me. Maybe I am just too comfortable in my day-to-day life. Maybe I am just fucking lazy and don’t want to be disturbed. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

So, basically, I’m being a really big pussy, right?

I have told myself to stop psyching myself out. I’m very good at that. I do that a lot when I’m faced with big challenges. I psych myself out about it sooo much that when I finally convince myself to quit it will feel more like relief than guilt or disappointment and I will be sure it was the right decision. When deep inside I know, it was just the EASY decision.

Fuck.

I’ll let you know what happens.

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February 27, 2008. Life, Me Me Me!, World Bridges.

One Comment

  1. World Bridges Pt. II « StrangeCandy replied:

    […] for me but that there is something out there and I just need to find it. As I said in my last World Bridges Post I have been trying lots of things out in the past two years to bring growth and change to my life […]

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