One thing that I learned from my last semester here in Managua is that you need to get to know yourself and what helps make you the best form of you. It was hard to think about what I need because it sounded selfish in my head. I didn’t want to waste time on myself when I could be doing something for other people or the Center. After a while though, I realized that you can’t pour from an empty cup I was feeling burnt out before I even really got to what I really needed to do some days.
When you become a volunteer, it isn’t just having a volunteer position. I loved what Sonia said my first day here and I still hear it everyday that I have a rough day or if I’m too hard on myself. She began the welcome breakfast talking about all that a volunteer has done to come here and give their time. They have left their family, friends and the comfort of their homes to work here and it may be difficult at times.
It can be hard and it really depends on the person. Some take off in all directions and flourish when they begin the volunteer journey while others start out slower and it may be harder to really get their feet under them. I know that I was the second of the two and it partially was something that I was doing…or what I wasn’t doing.
It doesn’t have to be so difficult though and if you really get to know yourself you can take some weight off the struggle of all those changes you go through. After having ups and downs last semester I learned what helped and what made things worse. I never really spent time truly by myself (no social media or constant access to messaging or calls) until I got here and it was weird but it opened so many doors for me.
In getting to know myself, I learned that I need exercise. When I say exercise, understand that it isn’t to lose weight or train like I did in college. Exercise has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but this year I realized that it helps me mentally in ways that you wouldn’t believe. Not only is running good for the heart, but for me it’s good for preparing myself for the day. It’s how I process my emotions, what I need to do for the day, how I’m going to be the best I can that day, and maybe sometimes it makes me feel good knowing I can still run a good amount after finishing my soccer career almost two years ago.
Something else that I learned that kind of surprised me is that it was important to learn something new. It didn’t have to be something mind blowing or important information but rather just something that I could share with someone that wanted to hear some random information. It also gave me something to chat about sometimes. For those who don’t me, sometimes I can be a bit awkward and overthink when it comes to small talk. Well, I think I’ve overused “Oh wow, I love your shirt!” and “What did you eat for lunch today? Sounds delicious!” With that being said, I’ve begun watching random documentaries and TEDtalks or reading random articles that I find. So far, it’s gotten me some pretty interesting conversations!
Sometimes even Christina and Theresa are part of it and we watch something together!