month five: part one.

via pinterest (of course)

Month 5 = done. Fittingly enough, tomorrow morning the five of us are driving to Pennsylvania for our JVC “Re-Orientation.” This is not quite the halfway point, but we’re getting close, and I can feel it my bones.

I’ve been playing catch up at work this week and attempting to finish my grad school applications at the same, so instead of the traditional monthly recap posts that I’ve been doing, I just want to share a few thoughts about where I am right now.

I have so many mixed feelings at this point. I have never intended this blog to be a warm and fuzzy, “JVC is great ALL OF THE TIME” kind of thing, and I hope that hasn’t been the case. While typically hardship tends to produces better writing, I’m usually just more inclined to post about happy things.

Yes, I love Boston, I love my job, and I love my community. I love JVC and the opportunities I’ve had because of it. I don’t doubt my choices, and I don’t doubt that this year is worth it.

But–and there is always a but–there are many things that I don’t love. I hate how far away Boston is from my home, family, and my friends. Besides my community members, I don’t have a lot of close friends here, and that can be hard. I had a countdown going in the weeks leading up to Christmas to when I flew home, and there was a particularly memorable day in December that I fought back tears as I walked to work because I missed home, SLU, and my life in Missouri so much.

There are days when my job is incredibly frustrating, and it’s consistently emotionally draining. Some days I’m so irritated with these kids that I just want to scream, and I stare at the clock, wishing it was 5:30 so I could go home and get away from them for 24 hours.

And frankly, our $100/month stipend doesn’t go very far in this city. Sometimes I just want to eat out, buy a cup of tea at a coffeeshop, or order a beer without double-thinking every last penny. I thought I was frugal and smart with my money before JVC, but not like this.

I’m not trying to complain–because I know that I choose this and I’m glad that I did–but I am trying to be honest. Really honest. And honestly, this is where my head is sometimes even as I try to figure out what being a woman “for and with others” really means. While many people have it much, much worse, I still get caught up in being silly and self-centered and caring way too much about all the wrong things.

So, JVC is rewarding, but it’s not easy; it is not perfect. Sometimes it’s really hard to see those rewards. Because I’m not perfect either; I still have the same flaws and weakness as when I started this year five months ago.

After hearing my stories about Casserly over Christmas, my Grandma said something that is very true of my experience so far: “So, you’re teaching, but I think they’re the ones who are teaching you just as much, if not more.” Yep. I’m still learning, and while there are somethings I’m getting the hang of, there are many more that I’m still struggling with on every level–personal, professional, relational, spiritual, and so forth.

In writing, I constantly have to stop myself from ending on a happy note, from trying to wrap everything up in a neat little package. For some reason, it is so difficult for me to end by saying that JVC is not perfect, that I have my struggles… I don’t want that to be the final word. I’m naturally pretty optimistic, so that’s part of it, but it has nothing to do with being optimistic or pessimistic and everything to do with what real life is. And real life can’t be condensed into neat packages at every moment. I need to learn how to be okay with letting myself just be in the midst of the struggles and stop there–no answers, no warm, fuzzy feelings, no quick fixes. Just questions, patience, and (hopefully) trust.

Hopefully, that is where I will learn to live over the next 7 months. 

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