A Meditation on Adapting

Caitlin Roman, 128 TCCS


It’s needing a sweater anytime the temperature drops below 80.

It’s acquiring a taste for fish flavored snacks.

It’s shrugging instead of crying at the prospect of head lice.

It’s figuring out that if you face the other way on a squat toilet you decrease the amount of splashback on your feet… (you’re welcome, ladies.)

It’s missing the presence of rice at a meal.

Adapting is surrendering

To the suffocating heat of April.

To the 12-hour spur-of-the-moment bpai tiao on your day off.

To having little control over your diet.

To the whims of your host siblings or the neighborhood kids who run amuck in your baan.

To the simplicity and monotony of site life.

To the lackadaisy of Thai schools… oh we have another 3-hour meeting in the middle of the day and classes are canceled *again*, you say?

Adapting is learning

To put names to faces.

To use a new language in a way that reflects your humor and personality.

To say no without offending… and harder still, without feeling guilty afterward.

To express love, affection, and gratitude in new and different ways.

To be patient… with others, but more importantly with yourself.

Adapting is accepting

That no matter what, there are just some people you are not going to vibe with.

That even though you could have made another choice, you made the one you made.

That other volunteers are having a different experience than you… and that’s okay.

That yes, there is a random yai‘s hand gently cupping your butt.

Adapting is growing

It’s saying mai khao jai 3 times a day instead of 30.

It’s smiling nicely when someone says you’re fatter today than you were yesterday.

It’s letting things marinate so that you can communicate problems or concerns in a way that is culturally sensitive and appropriate instead of addressing it RIGHT. THIS. SECOND.

It’s feeling confident in front of a class despite never having taught prior to Peace Corps.

It’s looking back and realizing your heart has expanded to make room for literally an entire village of new people (and yes, I used that word correctly).

Adapting is coping

It’s making sure to set aside time to do something for your mind and body every day.

It’s binging on Netflix instead of going to another monk ordination, and not feeling an ounce of guilt over it.

It’s keeping emergency chocolate and wine in the fridge.

It’s spending up to 10 hours in transit getting to and from Bangkok so that you can treat yo’self to some pizza, burgers, Mexican food, craft beer, WHATEVER YOUR LITTLE FARANG HEART DESIRES.

It’s stopping in Sev to re-up on some chilled oxygen.

Adapting is choosing

To find humor in the maddening.

To focus on the things you can control rather than fret over the things you cannot.

To find the silver lining.

To recognize small victories.

To be an active participant.

To show up and show out.

To be present.

Adapting is being

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