When I was in my twenties, I almost joined the Peace Corps. I was undergoing a “quarter-life crisis“* of the sort that must find meaning and purpose in life. The Peace Corps seemed like a natural fit for a young idealist like myself, and I was told it was probably the best way, as someone without existing development aid experience, to gain said experience abroad (working abroad was a secondary goal of mine, right next to meaning and purpose).
The interview for the Peace Corps is designed to weed you out if there is any doubt that you can’t handle the conditions of adapting to a different culture. During the interview, the interviewer asked me, “What do you do to deal with stress?”
I said, “Exercise.”
She said, “But what would you do if you couldn’t exercise?”
“But I have running shoes. And I can run anywhere.”
She said, “In some cultures, women can’t leave the house without a burka.”
“Then I will run with a burka.”
She said, “But what if you can’t leave the house?”
“Then I will do lunges and squats.”
That seemed to appease her, and she scribbled down a note in her pad. Perhaps she wanted me to say something like “meditate” or “write.” These are also things I have done in the past that can relieve stress, but they aren’t the first thing I think to do when I’m stressed.
I’m sick, still. I’m not running, and the mere act of not running or doing anything, really, is bugging me. I’m starting to feel a little stress, not from actual stress, more from not getting to go running. Yes, though I could stand in my room and do lunges and squats in my current condition, I can’t run, which is ultimately the only thing I really want to do right now.
*I doubt the quarter life crisis ever looks like the more well-known mid-life crisis where all you want, really, is a fancy sports car and/or a kite board to make you feel younger.