The Occasional Defeat

Celete Kato, 129 TCCS

Most days I’m ok with not understanding it all. Today, I’m not. Today, it hit me with force. The isolation of it all. There are only so many times you can rephrase a single sentence before you give in to the realization that the barrier is bigger than your vocabulary. Words are a large part of who I am, who we are; the creation and manipulation of them is one critical way we connect and feel understood. To be stripped of them is introducing me to a new realm of vulnerability. The days of defeat are, thankfully, far less frequent in my life that the days of contentment and joy. The unfortunate part is that the days of defeat settle on my spirit for much longer. Almost as heavy as carrying actual weight. The defeat takes a bit of the sincerity out of my smile. It adds yet another layer of separation between myself and those around me. It pushes the tears closer to falling. It zaps my energy, sending me to bed before the sun sets, hoping to chase the feelings away. Some days it wins, because some days, I quit.

It’s a unique isolation to be ingrained and simultaneously set apart from a community. To be accepted, but to be sidelined. To be present, but to be external to. It’s an isolation understood by other volunteers (and likely anyone in America currently classified as “other“, but that’s another conversation). Maybe the inability for most people to understand is a blessing in itself, because if I can’t explain it, maybe I won’t dwell on it, and if I don’t dwell on it, perhaps it will make the feeling pass more quickly. Or maybe that is all a delusion, too. I don’t know…and there it is. We’ve come full circle to where it all started: the feeling of helplessness and frustration that comes with not knowing or understanding.

There are, however, a few things I do know; a few things I have come to understand. I know most people genuinely care and want me to be okay. I know when words aren’t working, there are other ways to communicate. I know when a day of defeat comes around, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I know this because, for me, it’s always been true. I’m going to hold on to that truth for dear life on the hard days, and remain thankful for all of the happy memories from the good days. It’s hard…but as my Peace Corps friends like to say: we can do hard things.

And so we will.


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