Struggling as an “involvement junkie”

Hello, my name is Kyle and I have an involvement problem.

It sounds funny, but this has been true my whole life. For the last eight or so years of my life, I have been involved in the maximum extracurricular activities possible. I thrive on a varied list schedule that includes music, volunteer work, theater, religion, writing, sports and much, much more. I also like to excel in these interests and take positions of leadership and extra involvement.

As a result, my days are often packed. While studying at Macalester, 17-hour days involving four org meetings, two classes, a work shift, a choir rehearsal, and laying out The Mac Weekly were not uncommon. It’s how I make friends, it’s how I challenge myself and it’s how I grow. I’m not bragging, but pointing out one of the largest struggles I’ve faced here:

I feel woefully uninvolved.

In an average day here, I get to work at 8:30 and leave around 1 for lunch. I’m back at 3 and then here until around 7. Then I go home to relax with my family before bed at 10:45. I also don’t have regular weekend plans outside of attending church for a couple of hours on Sundays.

You might say, well look you’re working a lot of every day! Yet, as you know, I’ve been struggling to find relevance in the office. I’ve had a few unsuccessful attempts to be more involved and work on an evaluation of their program, but most days I sit in the office without making even the shadow of a contribution.

I’m struggling with just sitting around. I’m struggling with boredom. And time passes slower. I’ve been here less than two months, yet moments from September feel like they happened half a year ago. Likewise, boredom allows me to dwell on moments of sadness like I’ve never been able to before.

Specifically, I’ve spent the last week distressed over the death of my 19-year-old cat Arthur. I always knew it would be sad, as he’s the first part of my core family to pass away. Yet without any distraction, it’s filled my thoughts the last few days.

Added on top of all that boredom is that I realize I’m not sure how to make friends outside of organized activities.

Yet, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the other end of the extreme: over-involvement.  Specifically, my level of involvement brought me to a fairly low point and I found myself in need of regular counseling sessions for the latter half of my senior year and following summer.  Granted, there were other issues besides my busyness, but it was that stress that led me to reach out for help. It’s why the title and framing of my involvement as an addiction does not feel too crass to use.

I sat down with Paco recently to talk about how I feel bored and under involved here and without any knowledge of my past, he touched on that very issue. Specifically, he said that he believes there is a reason I am here and that good things may come out of a year of relaxation. Likewise, many YAVA (specifically, Peru YAVA) have emphasized how important patience is to my year. They recognize how challenge it is to “practice patience” on this level.

Given my recent history of over-involvement, I can agree that there may be some benefit to a slower year. Plus, there may be some important growth out of a more attentive grieving process to the passing of Arthur. And it’s so important to know how to just make friends without some support system like work or a club.

Still, I’d love to start contributing to CEDAP and move from being a complete stranger to one with connections outside of my house.

I can help make that change happen. I have tried to take more initiative in the office and asked to sort files. Also, I have continued to play soccer with the guys of CEDAP, flaunting my lack of talent. I’ve decided to explore the Halloween night celebrations I’ve seen advertised around the city. Yet, I’m most hopeful for an invitation from David, a co-worker I have bonded the most with so far.

David is hosting a lunch on Saturday, which aims to raise funds for the high school which his daughter attends. I have no idea what to expect, but I think it is well worth the 10 S/. (roughly $4) to go out and just be with people in the city.

I may have been joking in my Onion-style, mock journalism post last weekend, but honestly, I would like some steady friends. I want people to spend time with. People who help me engage during my time here, because to me that’s a central purpose of my place here.

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2 thoughts on “Struggling as an “involvement junkie””

  1. Sorry about Arthur Keelay, that’s a sad loss…
    and hope you find some special connections soon!
    Missed you and Jess yesterday while having coffee with your Mom and Emerson!

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