I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s no deep philosophy or anything and maybe I just think I’m too cool or something, but honestly I just rarely put much thought into it. I always say the same old, “Why do we make one particular special time of year so special? We can make real changes any time of the year!”
Guess what though? I’m finished 2014 on a pretty low note. I’m in the “trough” of the cultural adjustment timeline. I have experienced a few of the scariest moments of my life. I have made a few of the worst mistakes of my life. Due to all this, I ended many relationships on a negative note. Seriously, I can think of at least five people in Peru who consider me a terrible person. That’s weird for me. People really tend to like me. So I’m working through a lot of regret.
With that in mind, it’s a perfectly appropriate time for me to make a few resolutions. I am not solely responsible for the majority of negative moments from this past year, but I have more than my fair share of culpability. So I’m resolving to change what I can change. And it just so happens to be New Year’s. Call it a coincidence.
Now that I’ve established that this is not a cliché, basic “New Year’s Resolution” post (though it totally is), I can continue.
I have made several mistakes since arriving here in Peru. They range from the careless to the selfish, the ignorant to the petty. The consequences ranged from a complete reset of a YAV year to several destroyed relationships.
In fact, several folks in Peru do not like me and will not remember me positively after I leave. There is little I can do to regain their favor. That does not really happen to me. It might sound boastful, but people usually like me.
I do not take sole responsibility for all these broken relationships, but my mistakes hit pressure points and unintentionally broke some relationships.
Mainly, these errors show a distinct shift from my attitude several months ago. In September, I danced with an old church lady in the middle of a chicken restaurant. Now, I’m fairly shy around the office.
Also, I’ve sort of lost the intentionality with which I entered this year. During orientation, I woke up every morning to wash the dishes for my host family. I often did the same for my host family in Ayacucho. I sought active kindness towards those I interacted with.
Last week though, I greatly upset my landlady by leaving the apartment unclean by her standards. She sent along a laundry list of complaints, which felt terrible to read. Admittedly, I found her reaction a bit more intense than was truly necessary, but still, I could have done better. And I am fairly upset with myself about it.
I was upset not that I had become petty. I had had poor interactions with my landlady. She was not understanding that I left the kitchen unclean while cooking my dinner and she was quick to blame me without reason when I told her the toilet was not working well. I soon discovered the sink was draining slowly, yet due to her reaction to the toilet, I had no desire to be the informant. Sure it meant a nasty sink, but I told myself that my hands were tied. Plus, the “full” kitchen does not include a trash can or a broom. It’s far from useable as a “full” kitchen and I was fairly frustrated.
So what did I do? I allowed my spite towards my landlady and the kitchen motivate me to leave an unswept floor and unwashed sink, telling myself that the biweekly cleaning service would take care of it.
Mainly, I left the tenants’ shared kitchen mildly unclean before
It starts as a standard tenant disagreement. The shared kitchen is advertised as fully-equipped, but there is no shared trash can, broom, or remote cleaning equipment. There is, however, a bi-weekly cleaning service. Additionally, every tenant signs a list of norms that they promise to keep to about keeping the place clean.
I’m not really proud of that. Four months ago, I would have cleaned the sink regardless of any anger with my landlord. Now, I left it as it was.
In the end, it was clear that she held me in pure disdain and I had let spite dictate how I made choices. That’s fairly un-YAV. Plus, worst of all, I gave Jenny even more unnecessary stress and work. I have already given her plenty of additional work this year and this spitefulness only gave her more.
So what’s wrong? Why am I taking the easy way out? At the end of the day, it comes out of self-care. I’ve had a terrible few months. I’ve struggled through issues and challenges that are far from the storybook YAV year and tried to just carry on instead of manage them properly.
That was not smart. Of course, it was hurtful to myself, but it also caused me to disconnect from Peru. Outside of my housing issues, I lack the oomph to get moving in my new placement with Bridge of Hope.
So, I’m resolving to change that. I’m resolving to get back to the enthusiasm. I’ll be better at that if I resolve to take care of myself. I’m resolving to be more intentional. I’m resolving, if you will, to “clean the sink.”
And I’m getting something of a fresh slate. The remaining non-emotional negatives from 2014 are largely gone at this point. I’ll be moving in with a new host family, that of David, who attends the church I have started going to and is a friend at this point. I actually found them too, which is kind of exciting!
That being said, I’m not going to avoid reconciliation. I will apologize to my landlady and explain why I acted the way I did. It’s no excuse, but it will at least help me feel better.
Once that is through, I am just hopeful that I will be able to throw myself at being a better member of my new host family. I want to be more connected to the family and the big moments of the year. I want them to be more connected to my life and my big moments this year.
Plus, I’m going to take care of myself more. I’ve let Living Simply often get in the way of moments of simple pleasure and hold me back from happiness and that is not okay. Living Simply is not about being as cheap as possible, that is in fact in direct contrast to the greater goal, I believe.
With that more established home dynamic and greater self-care, I’m hopeful that I’ll just be more invested in Peru and in my work. Plus, I really do need to clean the sink.