Congratulations On Your Peace Corps Invitation!

So, last Thursday, I received my long-awaited Peace Corps invitation to teach English in China. This last week has been a blur. I’ve barely slept, and barely ate. I’ve kept myself so busy in completing paperwork that I forget to do those two things. Or, I’ll be in bed trying to fall asleep and think, “hmm. I wonder what kind of clothes are appropriate to wear” or “what kind of things to other Peace Corps Volunteers recommend for living in China?” I don’t sleep until I find the answer, just like I don’t sleep until I finished writing what I can’t stop thinking about. That’s why I’m up right now.

I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t know what I was getting into. First, there are tons of booklets and manuals and handbooks they send you to read in addition to the very specific paperwork that has to be filled out and returned within a timely manner. I don’t mind the paperwork a bit, but I would be lying if I felt like I was in too deep for a minute. Everything kind of came full force within two days and it got pretty intense. With all I had to complete in paperwork and my mixed emotions of excitement and anxiety, I was ready to explode. But I didn’t.

It actually started today. I should mention first, that I am holistic. I have never required medical or dental service unless I broke something, which I have. I’ve broken both my collar bones as a child and then my two front teeth got knocked out when I was 8. The same front tooth got chipped when I was 18 and that was the last time I went back to the dentist.

I know I am healthy. And I don’t rely on those medical and dental services because I know that I’m healthy. My body tells me when something is wrong and I listen.

For those of you interested in joining the Peace Corps, start saving your money the day you apply, because when you get your Peace Corps invitation, it might save you a pretty penny in the long run. I wish I would’ve been more proactive and more careful with handling my finances because I wouldn’t be stressing over medical costs if I did. Because I never utilize medical and dental services (I don’t have insurance), I am paying out the wazoo for medical and dental services. I’m not going to make monthly payments for something I don’t even use. That’s like buying milk and leaving it in your fridge even though you’re lactose intolerant.

I want to emphasize that I don’t mind getting these services. While I am holistic and not too keen on getting poked and prodded, I value this opportunity and I respect what I need to do to make it a reality. However, I had a breakdown moment today, because I realized I was giving up a little bit of myself to get this all done.

I went to the dentist. I had to do an exam and x-rays. I was particularly excited because the Doc said he wouldn’t charge me for an exam because I was joining the +Peace Corps, but he would charge me for the x-rays. I was so grateful and excited that I wasn’t going to pay too much for these services. I was at the dentists office for two hours.
There was a mishap with the x-rays and then they had the exam. It was a bummer. But what was even more a bummer was the huge bill and required services I needed to complete before I could gain the ok from my dentist. My bills was close to $1000, for five fillings and a cleaning.

I was devastated and immediately went into “be my own victim” mode. I started beating myself up for the past financial mistakes that I am really paying for now. Those young gal mistakes are costing me a lot of time and a lot of worry.

I spent all day on the phone looking for someone who could provide me the same services for less. No dice. I was in tears with my mom over the phone, overwhelmed that I was having to pay thousands of dollars for services I’ve never utilized in my life. I just lost it. I went to my night job, asked around about opinions on what I should do, still crying, still upset. It felt like the worst day. And you always know when I’m having a bad day because I’m not singing.

Half way through my night shift, I thought, “what the heck is wrong with me?” Why am I being such a big baby? Are these costs really going to measure against how rewarding this experience will be for me? And do I really want to let a silly thing like money get in the way of something that could be a portal to opportunities where there is more money for me? And why the heck is money so important anyways?? I went back to my friends who I was confiding in and pretty much said, “I need to suck it up, get it done, and move on and into this commitment.” They’re like, “Oh! Kelly! There you are! We’ve missed you all night long!”

I couldn’t believe I really let it get to me. And when I started doing the math, there should be no reason why I can’t take care of everything smoothly if I am really smart about my money.

The funny thing is too, that since I got my Peace Corps invitation, I haven’t found the need to purchase material things. Food, gas, and living expenses are the only thing that needs to be dealt with. But other extra-curricular or leisurely things, they don’t matter now. Even if I wanted a fancy pair of shoes or a sexy fake tan, or some whale collectibles, I can only take certain things to China and it will mostly be clothes and stuff I need to sustain a simple lifestyle for the next two years.

The money is there, and it will be there when I need it. It always is. I have enough to cover medical bills, I have enough to save for my family here in the states, and I have enough to pay off the the mistakes I made. I am doing everything in the best order possible, but it takes patience and deep breaths.

Am I going to let silly little things like this ruin my dreams? Heck no!

I will look back at this moment, and I won’t even remember what a pain in the butt it was to get everything done. I’ll look back and think about how I got to go to China and teach English for two years with the Peace Corps.

So. Don’t be like me. Be smart about your money and plan in advance for hiccups like this, you never know what could happen in a year. So I plan to keep a nice money cushion for my family and me just in case those hiccups happen. I don’t need another day like today in my life.