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.
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.