Today marks the start of my eighth week in Cape Town, which means I’m closer to my departure than my arrival, which means everythingishappeningsofast.
I was warned against falling into the trap of destination happiness- the notion that changing one’s physical location will spark an intense positive transition in terms of joy and overall life satisfaction. What I wasn’t warned against, however, is the falseness behind the notion of destination productivity. It could have something to do with how destination productivity is a term I just came up with, but when picturing my gap year, I imagined that I’d be on a constant and unyielding grind. I would make time to write blog posts and journals, witty reflection pieces and columns for the DTH, all the while crushing it at my internship, maintaining meaningful long-distance relationships, and seamlessly building a sense of community and belonging with those around me- nothin’ to it!
In my defense, some of these things, I did! I’ve found so much joy and fulfillment at my internship, and constantly reflect on how invigorating it feels to be in an environment where everyone around me is passionate about the work they do. I want to go the extra mile, not out of a sense of obligation, but because it’s a community and a mission that makes me feel.For those of you reading this who aren’t my mom, I’m a communications intern at a refugee and migrant center here in Cape Town. I interview clients and write their success stories, document day-to-day activities put on by the organization’s different platforms, and, as of last week, facilitate a digital literacy class for a group of middle-aged students. I interviewed the director of the organization last week who, at one point, said, “we have the same resources as a corporation, the same level of commitment as a corporation, but our goal isn’t profit. Our goal is change.” This is exactly what I was looking for! It’s this combination of genuine selflessness and drive that makes me want to maximize my impact and truly earn my position here.
In terms of relationships, I also feel lucky enough to have found my people- my Muslim neighbors who’ve adopted me and have me over for dinner twice a week, the imam at the mosque I pray at every day, and the friends who make me laugh and think and take me to spots around the city that I wouldn’t find on my own. On the flipside, though, I’ve been inconsistent in keeping in touch with my people back home. I chalk it up to the time difference, but it’s more than that. It’s the pit I keep falling into where I haven’t called in too long, and then I want to call but I’ll have to rationalize why I took so long to call and I don’t really have an excuse so I just don’t, so the pit deepens…you get it.
I also haven’t really been writing. I’m most disappointed by this because it was one of the reasons I was so keen (they say keen here- leave me alone) to take this time away from school- I’d finally have time! And although I do finally have the time, I’ve lacked the courage. I know it sounds dramatic, but blogs are intimidating. People might…god forbid…read this. And I want to feel like my reflections are meaningful and well-articulated, but every time I sit down with a thought to unpack, I feel like something’s missing, or that it isn’t profound enough, which ultimately means that I’m neither releasing mediocrity or perfection.
I came to Cape Town seeking a sense of confidence and peace, hoping to slow down the pressure and the pace of my life. Now, more than half way into my time here, there are things I’ve crushed and things I have yet to crush, but the metaphorical night is young! So today, I’m reclaiming (or just claiming?) this blog. Thanks for tuning in!