About Tonga

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Does Tonga have Fashion Police?

I've got to be upfront with you all. I like clothes. Well, it's more like love, or obsession. So? I like jewelry too, and scarves, and shoes..ohhhh shoes! SO WHAT- does that make me any less of a devoted Peace Corps Trainee? NO!

Here's my dilemma. I hate all my Tonga clothes, basically. I am anticipating one of my main challenges in Tonga to be not feeling awkward and gross in my outfits. Is that trivial? Maybe to you. But, self-esteem is a necessary part of life, and mine often comes from feeling good in my clothes. Do not interpret this post as a complaint, because it's only meant to be a comical reflection.

My friends always say they've never seen me in the same outfit twice. They go shopping in my closet-sometimes I never even know when things are gone! I'm not exactly proud of this over-indulgent compulsion toward clothes (it's not just clothes either..sadly). It's just a fact. When I have issues (and let's just admit it, I've got a lot of issues) I like to indulge in a little (or a lot of) retail therapy. One of the things that appealed to me about Peace Corps in the first place was the minimalistic lifestyle. I thought, "wouldn't it be cool to realize a world where things don't matter?" Then WHY Kristen do you want to bring 384938493 pieces of clothing (and shoes, and make-up, and and and..) with you?

When I first started telling people about my intention to join the Peace Corps I'm pretty sure there was a lot of doubt. Upon first glance I will admit that I probably look a tad high maintenance. Maybe I am, I'll own up to it. But, I never considered that a reason not to attempt this challenge. I stood in front of the mirror today trying on numerous skirts (rescued from various thrift stores around Virginia Beach I might add) and I pretty much wanted to barf. They are figureless and fashionless. I keep telling myself it doesn't matter. Tongans don't value clothes. But I'm not a Tongan, and I grew up with my nose in a Seventeen Magazine. I can't possibly imagine myself in a state of mind where clothing doesn't matter. I wonder if I will lose this self-consciousness in time?

I am probably going to have to vacuum pack my clothes for the trip to Tonga. I will try to downsize as much as humanly possible, but I have come to terms with my condition. I look forward to an eye opening experience that will help me put into perspective how important (or not important, rather) things such as clothes really are. But in the mean time, I will struggle with leaving behind my precious coach purse (it's fun really, a true self-growth exercise)! OH coach purssse :(

Anyways, the moral of this story, the point of this loooong drawn out discussion is just this: you don't have to be any certain body to want to help better the world. I'll still paint my fingernails, and wear stylish jewelry. That's just who I am. And, now that you all know what you're dealing with here, I'm sure you can't wait to hear just how well I'll fit in when I get to Tongaaaa, (note sarcasm) BAhahaaa.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Because..

....it's THAT good!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I don't know why but thinking of Tonga makes me think of Fruit Loops and Tucan Sam: "Follow your nose!"

As much as I would love to be silly and light hearted, there is just too much going on in my head right now. So if you'll allow one mellow post, I promise to be more fun the next round.

I have been having a hard time lately finding the good in people. A lot of people around me (it wouldn't be fair to say everyone) have shown themselves to be selfish, shallow people with little concern for others and it erks me to the core. It erks me because I try very hard to be a good person, to love people and do the right thing by them, but it always seems to backfire and I end up being punished for my good intentions. I guess that is why I am looking forward so much to leaving for the Peace Corps. I know (or at least I dearly hope) that I will be meeting people who have the desire to be useful, to be good and to care about other people before themselves. That's not to say there won't be hard times, or bumps in the jolly road, but at least I will have some restored faith in humanity (or, as I said, I dearly hope).

The past year has been one rough, hard time with trying to finish school, graduating and being discouraged by joblessness. Looking back I found that I was often waiting for something better to happen to me. The typical everyday mindset was something along the lines of "this sucks so much I would rather be doing anything else I cannot wait to get on to something better." And, eventually I was on to something better, but it didn't seem better at all. And now, face to face with the most exciting thing to ever happen in my life, (a state which doesn't exist without its own stresses and anxieties) has me thinking with the same old mindset. Some how though I came to a realization and that is: life doesn't just go away. Things come up, hard decisions must be made, people sometimes have to be let down, and that's just the way it is. It is not right to wish it away, and it is not effective. The only way to grow up is to learn how to cope with hardship and still find a way to be happy while doing so. So, my goal for the next two years and three months will be to take things for what they are, not what I want them to be. There is always room for improvement, but perfection doesn't exist, and remembering that will make me a more effective person and I think an overall more pleasant person to be around. The little things will not get me down anymore, mark my words!! (end annoying sermony-like self-improvement segment of this show)

With all that said, I feel sure I am ready to take on this challenge. I just read my "bridge to PST" paper and it has made me even more excited! There is so much still to do and I know I will forget at least one thing. When I first found out I was going to Tonga I was so careful to find out every little detail I could. I wanted to minimize as many issues as possible. But, that very quickly ended in me becoming way to crazy-obsessed and over anxious with wanting everything to go perfectly. What is the point in that? New outlook: go with the flow, don't ruin all the surprises and be excited about the unknown. I know this is the right way to do it, because if I knew exactly what to expect, then surely I would be thrown into a tizzy when something didn't go exactly as I had thought it would. (i sound like such a psycho ((and proud of it))!!)

A tad off topic but worth mentioning: My favorite book as of late has been Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" and in the book she ends a relationship with the man she loves. Well, afterword she decides she needs to change, stop seeing herself through other people's eyes and she writes "operation self-esteem: day fucking one." This is exactly how I feeeeeeel tonight, mind you it is 1:53 in the morning and I have been played for a fool. But, sometimes I think people don't get to hear enough about how great they are, how beautiful. This leaves us (or me at least) second guessing ourselves, misplacing our attention, and depending on others for happiness when it is really ourselves we need to make peace with. Well tonight I will take solace by declaring that I don't need any damn person's affection to know my worth. It doesn't depend on whether or not I am wanted, or loved. It depends on how much I can serve and be of use to others. So, off I go..to increase my worth!

T-minus two weeks whaaaaaaaat?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christmas in September

Packing for Tonga is basically equivalent to Christmas morning. Except instead of getting expensive clothes and electronics, I get a tent, tools and duct tape! A tent that I don't how to pitch and tools that I don't know how to use, thanks Santa :). Maybe I should have tried harder at Girl Scouts when I was little?

Here's is what my packing corner looks like so far:  

I am still missing a few things, but for goodness sakes, what more can there be?????? Oh i know...some suitcases to put all of this crap in (wouldn't that be the first thing you'd buy...yeah, i'm not that smart)! There is less than three weeks left, and i'm starting to feel the pressure. On the other hand, I am ready to go...