Spiraling out of Control

One of the hardest things I’ve come to struggle with in this program is control.

In every sense of the concept, I have no control. I don’t control my schedule. I don’t control my future within this program. I don’t control what I eat each night. I have to have my work phone on me at all times and answer it whenever it goes off, so I no longer have control over my free time. I don’t control my workouts. I don’t control what I’m allowed to say when I want to say it or how I want to behave. I don’t even control my privacy and need for alone time.

Control has never been a concept I craved until it was taken away from me. Although at once this may not have been true of me, I have grown relatively adaptable to the idea that I need to, at times, take a step back and allow life to just happen. This applies to more then just work­­–– it applies to all aspects of my life. Before coming here, this was something I had grown accustomed to and okay with. Here, however, it’s one of the hardest things for me to adjust to.

I can accept not having control over my schedule. That’s the nature of work, adapting to schedule changes and working long hours. I can adapt to not controlling what I eat or my workouts, these are things I can adjust to fit my needs on my own time. The control over my own personal choices and my privacy though has become a guiding factor for my frustration at the end of each day.

It’s difficult to work in a setting where anything you may say or do can have a profound and unintentional impact on someone else around you. It’s taking me time to adjust to the idea that people will tell me what to do and what to say or not say and how to behave, because they take personal offense to my actions in ways that I never intended. This isn’t a one-way road, I’ve had to vocalize my frustrations just in the same way that others have to me. This doesn’t by any means make it easy to deal with when confronted by others, especially when you are hearing for the first time a trait or quality someone sees in you that you’ve never heard before.

A part of me grows frustrated, feeling like no one can suppress my actions when their intentions were nothing but pure. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of corps members to monitor and control the free speech or actions of others regardless of the affect it may have on them. It should be realized first the intentions of words before jumping to the conclusion that someone needs to not vocalize their thoughts. Another part of me feels frustrated realizing that I have nine more months with the entire corps and that a part of being a mature adult in a work setting means adjusting one’s behavior to ensure you’re doing what you can to create a suitable work environment. It’s a precious balance over really wanting to make things work and recognizing my own need to express myself without feeling constrained by miscommunications and misunderstandings.

When the workday is done, these issues continue. I can’t escape for a minute without my phones requiring my attention. I’ve taken to turning off my personal phone at night and not bringing it with me to the bars so that I can have time of solitude to spend with those I want to in the moment. All of my business, all of my past decisions and current choices, have become common knowledge among most of the corps. People I haven’t even given myself the chance to meet yet likely know just as much about me as I do about them. Keeping some sense of privacy here is a miracle and it’s almost expected most of my life is out there for the corps to know.

At the end of the day, I have to take a deep breath and realize this is the nature of the program. I’m working and living and being with the same hundred people for ten months. We all have differences and these differences can serve as barriers or connections depending on how you want to interpret them. Although it’s hard, to make the program work for me I have to just embrace the difficulties and find the benefits from them. This doesn’t mean that today or tomorrow I’ll be ready to accept my lack of control. However, I have nine months to go. It’s entirely possible that by the end of these nine months, my newly created desire for control will be a page in my life I can barely recall.

Nahant Marsh Education Center was where we did our mini spike project and it was so beautiful! This is a view of the sunset from the dock.

Nahant Marsh Education Center was where we did our mini spike project and it was so beautiful! This is a view of the sunset from the dock.

One personal laptop, a blackberry, and Iphone, and a FEMA laptop. It's overwhelming sometimes

One personal laptop, a blackberry, and Iphone, and a FEMA laptop. It’s overwhelming sometimes

Some of the good friends I've made on this journey

Some of the good friends I’ve made on this journey

Having good roommates has made a world of difference in this program

Having good roommates has made a world of difference in this program

The girls of hickory six

The girls of hickory six

Friday is deployment day and I know I’m going to have a really hard time that day. Even with all of these frustrations, I have met so many incredible people here that I strangely feel know me better then some people I have known for years. Maybe this is because of my lack of privacy, but I like to imagine it’s because of our shared experiences during training. We’ve seen each other at our worst, have been with one another through tough decisions and frustrations, and have shared a passion that is uncommon in most social settings. Saying goodbye to all of these new friends will be a weird experience for my team and I, especially since we will be staying on the same campus while all of our friends depart across the states. I’m genuinely looking forward to the opportunity to continue connecting with my teammates and exploring more of Iowa, though. Vinton is already a home away from home, and a part of me is glad that I at least don’t have to depart with this comfort away from Encinitas.


5 thoughts on “Spiraling out of Control

  1. mcshappctjournal says:

    There’s an incredible amount of maturity in your words and passion. Be who you are and know you will never please everyone, so you just love yourself. You are fabulous!
    And I agree with Wanda’s FB comment. The more you can disconnect on your time better, the better you will enjoy that precious valuable and infrequent time. Love you forever


  2. Nikki says:

    I am STRONGLY considering AmeriCorps! In fact, I have begun multiple applications! What would you say is the toughest thing about it and what would you say is the most insightful?


    • Alexa says:

      Hi Nikki,

      AmeriCorps is a really great program and I would absolutely recommend it if you’re looking into it. There are a lot of really tough things about the program that ultimately cause a lot of people to drop out throughout the year, but if you can get over those bumps you really will get a lot out of the program.

      One of the toughest things I encountered during FEMA Corps training was the lack of privacy and control over your life. You’re going to be constantly surrounded by other people and it’s really difficult to find time to be by yourself. This wasn’t really something I ever needed before joining the program, but because of the nature of the work and the environment you’re in, you kind of just crave it over time but can never really find it. There are also a lot of different personalities to deal with that can be difficult at times, but it always helped me to think about it in this way; you’re working with these people for the next ten months. If you want to let differences get in the way of that, then go ahead, but if you want to get as much as you can out of the program then learn to love those differences and see the benefits they bring to your class and team.

      This program really is one of the more difficult things you will do, but you can get so much out of it as long as you allow yourself to.

      I’m not sure what track you’re considering, but I know when I was applying I was a little confused with the differences between NCCC and FEMA. If you’re considering both, just know that they are both very different programs. I would only recommend FEMA to people who want a career in disaster relief or a federal position. The training is really intense and very boring, and you have to learn to be really flexible with never knowing what’s going on and being able to adjust to very last minute and sometimes difficult changes. NCCC is more hands-on work in a number of different areas and can allow people to see how their actual work affects the community their in. That’s not to say that FEMA Corps work doesn’t help the community, it does, but there will be days where you don’t feel like you’re actually helping anyone at all or where you won’t have anything to do but will have to sit around waiting to be given work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nikki says:

        Your comment really helped me out! I know for a fact I want to do VISTA. As a public relations major, I do want to stay in my field as my degree. I do thank you so so much!


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