Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

3 Words

Don’t worry – this post isn’t about the big three words.  It’s about less important words.  Or maybe more important, since knowing yourself is arguably better than someone else claiming to know you.  Before I get too derailed on cynicism about love, however, let’s get back to business.

When I first arrived in Ghana, my coach asked me to describe myself in 3 words.

Try it for yourself.  Now.

—BREAK TIME—

Tough, isn’t it?

In the end I decided on these: generous, driven, and silly

I don’t know if they’re the most accurate choices.  After all, my best traits are just the opposite side of the same coin for my worst traits.  Where I like to say “driven,” other people might call the same characteristic “obstinate,” “impulsive,” or “inflexible.”  Likewise “silly” could be interpreted as “optimistic” and “fun-loving” or “trivial” and “offensive.”

It’s all about the spin, right?

Reflecting on my JF placement, though, I can see some of my traits have been helpful while some definitely have not.

I think the most useful have been self-motivation and optimism.  First, my work assignment was not enough for a fulltime job and it would have been easy to get bored.  I like to keep busy, however, I worked on other things like my master’s thesis and blog writing.  Plus, luckily I was sick so often that I when I was healthy, I had lots to do!  And there’s the second trait.  Some aspects of this trip have been less-than-ideal, but I’ve still had tons of fun here.  It always feels good to laugh, even when things are awful.

My biggest hindrance has been my short-temper.  Lots things here annoy me, like children constantly shouting, “SALAMINGA! SALAMINGA! HELLO! BUY ME A TOFFEE!” even while they’re pooing in the bushes on the side of the road.  Or men making the “PSSST” noise (which is how Ghanaians get each other’s attention and calling “White lady, come here! I want to marry you!” Or the lack of traffic rules.  Or how impossible it is to get a straight answer.  I’m usually good at laughing at things, but I can also be too irritable – mostly when I’m being closed-minded or self-centred.

All in all, I don’t believe my words have changed.  But I’ve also seen some uglier sides of my personality that I have to come to terms with.

Ugh.  I hate self-reflection, maturity, and personal growth.

Another hindrance.

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