Alexis Sweeney
Alexis Sweeney
South Africa, 2021
My name is Lexi Sweeney, and I am so excited for this 5 month journey in Cape Town, South Africa! I will be a social work intern at School of Hope, a school for vulnerable youth where I will help facilitate group therapy, individual therapeutic sessions, and social/emotional educational sessions.

The Halfway Mark

Well mates, somehow we have reached the halfway mark of this journey. Actually, somehow I missed it. Somehow 3 months have come and gone already, and I didn’t even notice. Okay it hasn’t actually “come and gone,” but I am just shocked that I somehow didn’t realize I only have 2 ½ months left!

This place has become home. Somehow in just 3 short months I have become attached to Obs (my neighborhood) and fallen in love with the community in my friendships here. The learners at my internship mean so much to me and the staff are the best, I cannot even begin to think about how my time with them is already halfway over.

I have had countless adventures with friends that I hold dear to my heart. We have hiked, camped, surfed, rock climbed, golfed, had beach days, explored, and hiked some more. I have heard from some people back home that it looks like I am “on vacation,” but to me this is how life should be. It is how I have always lived my life. Even back in Nashville, outside of work hours I spent my time connecting with friends, exploring nature, and searching for new adventures.

The difference is that it’s harder for me to talk about the difficult and sad things with people back at home while I am here, so everyone basically sees a highlight real. Because if I were to tell everyone back home how lonely days can be, how mentally exhausting my internship is, how frustrated I get, how scared I am sometimes, how much I am debating my purpose in life, and how anxious I am- well then people would be wondering why I am even here.

But the truth is that no matter where we go in life, things will be hard, they will be difficult. Life is meant to have ups and downs, it simply helps us grow. One lesson that I have learned here that continually rings true: we must always seek joy and share love, and when it is hard to do so is when it is the most necessary. 

This past month has been particularly hard for me. With grieving a lost loved one back at home, being worried about the future, and dealing with my own insecurities- my anxiety has been almost constant. It is hard being in a space that feels like home, yet is not always grounding. Yet during this month of lows, I have purposely taken time to seek joy and share love, even though it might feel hard to do. Connecting with people and with nature is what brings me joy, so I am always sure to make time for an adventure in nature with friends. And sure, it might look like a vacation to some, but to me this is what my life genuinely looks like. What I think life should look like in general. Seeking joy, having fun, and spreading love, all to help process personal struggles, work stress, and everything else. 

I feel like movies, social media, and propaganda articles make living a life of service seem like it is 100% work and no fun, all while living in difficult conditions. However, I am here to challenge that idea. To me, living a life of service means you are dedicating your time to serve others in the ways they determine they need help. That doesn’t mean you can’t also have free time to do things you enjoy. It also doesn’t mean you always have to give up all of your physical possessions to be of service to others. A life of service looks different for every person and every situation. At the end of the day, no one can pour from an empty cup. So, if a person wants to serve others in the best way they can, they must also make time to fill their own cup. They must make time to seek joy and share love. Then, their service will be genuine and full of compassion as opposed to it being forced and tiresome acts. 

So that is what I am trying to do. On great days and on hard days, I am hoping to live a life of service by seeking joy and sharing love.

 

Love Always,

Lexi Sweeney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *