Leaving PSO, I didn’t have too many perceptions about what it meant to be a VISTA. All I knew was that I wanted to do something to help kids without actually having to interact with them directly, and I thought that VISTA’s indirect service requirement would be perfect for me. I thought it would be a good transition from what I was doing to a new career that I was more suited to. I was looking forward to having a desk job where I could work on tasks without the stress of lesson plans and screaming children, and that is essentially what I got. That’s not to say there have not been challenges, but for the first time in a long time, I actually don’t mind/look forward to coming to work.
The aspect I was least looking forward to at the end of PSO was the VISTA living stipend. I wasn’t sure how difficult it was going to be to live on so little, but so far I’ve managed to get by without making too many sacrifices. I can’t afford to do some of the things I wish I could, but I’ve also realized that as long as I have basic necessities, how much money I make has very little to do with how happy I am. I could have stayed at my old job making four times as much as I do now, and I would have been miserable because I hated what I was doing every day. Having so little also means that I have nothing to lose, and there is definitely a sense of freedom that comes with that.