It’s tough working 24/7. When you’re in the Peace Corps. every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take . . . they are watching you. Unless, you happen to look like the people. Then again, that brings with it a whole different set of problems.

It’s so sad too. People are just naturally curious. They in no way mean to offend you or irritate. In fact, in several cases they are just trying to be friendly. But sometimes it just becomes too much. And it often comes at the wrong time.

I’ve been feeling down lately because my first host family was entirely too good to me. I was and still feel like a part of their family. We text each other from time to time. My host sister teases me about stuff. I tell them to learn more English. They tell me that they’re proud of my Tagalog, and it feels so good to have a family away from family.

I just don’t quite have that here in my new town. I don’t know what happened, but I never quite integrated. The family is extremely nice and accommodating. I have no complaints, technically. I just wish I felt loved or at the very least cared for. I feel more like a nuisance. I feel like the big clumsy foreigner who is in the way. And the feeling has become increasingly palpable. They clearly want me gone. I have never felt as unwelcome as I do at the moment. I’d probably cry, but I don’t even feel comfortable enough to do that.

So, I have kind of been a walking open wound lately. Every time I hear, “hey Joe!” I tense up. Every time that some child mocks my Tagalog, I’m hurt way more than I should be. And since I’m “on” all of the time it’s impossible to react. I’m just stuck with all of my emotions lingering like the mosquitoes. They buzz around me, irritate me, and even when I get one to leave me alone another lands on me and begins to pierce my flesh and suck just a little more life out of me.

I feel like climbing the highest building I can find and screaming, “I’M TRYING AS HARD AS I CAN, OK!?”

And I can’t even escape it here (online), but I won’t get into that. Expression is good, right? Thus, I shall never stifle expression.

On a good note (and somewhat frustrating note) my office mates love me enough to want me to perform with them. It’s only frustrating because it goes along with the being “on” thing. I would rather just sit in the background for just one moment. But alas, I will be playing guitar and singing, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. I am doing this for the sake of friendship, and the fact that it’s English month, and our department wanted to do this, and it’s not REALLY a big deal.

I guess my biggest struggle has been trying to figure out how to please everyone. It’s such a wasteful endeavor, but one I spend too much time on. I can’t dwell on every negative word when I have gotten so much positive feedback. I can’t keep going back and changing my opinions or actions because they offended someone, because I find I offend someone else in my backpedaling.

I guess I’ll just have to learn to be myself and hope that’s enough.

Too bad (pardon the cliché) that’s much easier said than done.

Much Love,

Brandon Holly


One thought on “24/7

  1. Found your blog via peacecorpsjournals.com.

    I had almost the same problem regarding host families: I didn’t realize how much my first family had to sacrifice for my sake or how much they cared about me until my second one was just the opposite. I peaced out the first day I could and I’m much happier living on my own.

    Fitting into the community will always be a problem. You will never be Filipino. But lots of things will get better: you’ll learn to shrug off some of the stares, ignore the rude hisses and comments, and – perhaps most importantly – you’ll learn how to turn people down without committing cultural suicide.

    A few months ago I looked around at my center’s large staff and realized that a good percentage of them were actually newer than I was. Things can develop so slowly here that sometimes it seems like you’re in complete stasis, but then you look back at the past year and you realize: a hell of a lot has changed since I started.

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