In less than a weeks time I will have have been on the road for half a year. Certain aspects of my pre-Asia life still feel extremely present, while others are worlds away–both literally and figuratively. The distance however, has solidified certain things for me, and in positive ways has made me a more headstrong and determined person.
After the insanity that was Teach for America, grad school and the past two years of my life relationship wise, 6 months of doing nothing and spending time alone with my thoughts has brought me a lot of perspective and clarity. I used to be entirely unable to sit still. Asking me to do so was like asking a dog to stop slobbering when it sees food–essentially it was a lost cause. I’ve remidied this by doing a lot of writing and meditating. It’s not to give the image that I have become this solitary person. Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be able to imagine me sitting alone legs crossed and breathing for an hour straight. My journey exploring spirituality in Bali has taught me ways of experiencing my life, anger, sadness, and basically any emotion in a much calmer and detached way. It has changed the way I react to just about everything and I have loved being able to share what I have learned with people I meet along my travels.
Even though I’ve been out of the classroom for quite a while now, my passion for working with children has not dwindled in the slightest. Education is still the best fit for me. I miss being around children, their unconditional love, and the fun that I had becoming a part of their families’ lives. As crazy as they might have thought their child’s dancing and singing teacher was, in Latino culture there is also a huge sense of respect and gratitude towards education that translates to you being a part of their family whether you ask for it or not. To have students and parents messaging me these months saying how much they miss me is an incredible reminder of the impact I made. While I have tried the odd job whilst abroad, the excitement I feel towards the next chapter and moving to Honduras to set up a school is a perfect indication that I am following right career path.
Now the arena of relationships has been the most challenging to get my mind around. My desire to travel and explore new things does not really match up with the desire to create deep loving relationships. All things considered, I feel I have done pretty well at not letting distance drive wedges in friendships, but when you meet people and really hit it off, it is often only a matter of days before you part ways with no idea if you will ever cross paths again. 5 days feels like 5 months in travel time and bonds grow fast, but unfortunately in many cases it is hard to maintain contact as our busy lives continue. I strive to adapt the cliche that “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” to sound more like this: “it’s better to love, cherish those experiences and do your best to continue to do so in the future (a Maxie Gluckman original).” I have run into people months or even years later, and with good friends it feels like no time has passed. I just have to remind myself that this is the nature of the lifestyle I am choosing.
Basically, I am cherishing living life with no regrets and to the maximum. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be able to live this experience. I am humbled by that thought and the people I befriend that may not have these same opportunities. I am being challenged all the time and it has made me a much better person to gain a global context. This lends itself to my future success in both professional and personal endeavors. Now in just three months I will back stateside for one month before heading south. The thought evokes a mixture of excitement as well as fear. What will my relationship with friends and family look like? What will it be like to return to my school and see the smiling faces of my students that broke my heart to leave behind? Will I be able to maintain my drive and self-respect when reencountering with people that once challenged this? A half a year may have changed a lot, but there is still so much to learn. Next stops, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao, Vietnam, Philippines, California.