Today I am feeling very impatient and cynical. It's the kind of day where I realize that there is high burn-out in certain industries for a reason...after a determined point, your heart isn't in it anymore and you can't see your work through anything but gray-colored lenses. There needs to be a reasonable level of turnover, to keep ideas fresh, motivation rolling and spirits high.
The problems start when, as I did today, you sit in a meeting and think, "I don't care about any of this, I don't believe any of it will make a difference." I don't care about soy, I don't care about small-scale farmers, I don't care about malaria, I don't care about the Gates Foundation, I don't care about new proposals or budget categories or stakeholder meetings. It's all just one big cycle - AID begetting AID - even when it is packaged in the alluring label of "private-sector focused".
I find it laughable that the people in the meeting room - including myself - are discussing the future of farmers, of industries, of countries. I can talk the talk - we all can - and some of us certainly walk the walk...but I feel a bit as if I've been tasked to conduct a seminar in astrophysics, that's how far removed I am from the plight of the poor peasant working a plot of maize in Mozambique. And, much like astrophysics, at the end of the day it's really not my passion.
I feel very bad admitting this, like I've stated that I hate kittens and small children and sunshine. Obviously it's not a black-or-white situation, this development game, and the ultimate positive impact or damage of any program is a question of perspective. However, I know that I am burned out in my work here in Mozambique, and that likely I was never the right ambassador for a lot of these projects in the first place. I feel that I am essentially at the end of my line, just as I knew I was at the end of my line when I was directing an HIV Prevention Program in Austin back in 2005. Something shifted, the frustrations became more frequent, the apathy almost constant.
Still, it's hard to make the decision that it's time to walk away. I know I do a good job, despite my bitter days. I know my work is thorough, ethical and high-quality. I know that I have something beneficial to contribute, even if if said contribution is in the context of a system I disagree with. I try to remind myself that, fundamentally, I am lucky not only to have a job, but to have one that pays decently well and offers me so many opportunities.
I need a change, though. I know it's time, and I believe it's the right thing to do. For me and for the supposed beneficiaries of this work.
Stay tuned for what's next. It won't be immediate, and I certainly don't have a plan 100% forged in my mind, but it's gotta happen. Soon!