What can we make of a year? Of one more Earthen journey around the sun? I suppose it depends–like most things in life, a year is what we make of it. What happens isn’t always up to us, but how we react can define the outcome.
Early on in 2017, I found myself in a few situations that forced me to reevaluate how I perceive myself. When I looked closer, I didn’t like a lot of what I saw. I realized that I was putting my attention in the wrong places, and that was keeping me from focusing completely on myself and my future. In turn, I was unnecessarily anxious and completely out of wack when it came to evaluating my wants and needs in a healthy, productive way.
How did I react?
I stopped drinking coffee cold turkey when I realized that I was drinking 3-4 cups a day and accomplishing nothing because of caffeine-fuled anxiety; I quit my temp job, which left me feeling lifeless and uninspired, and started teaching ESL online; and, I decided that 2017 was going to be “The Good Year.”
Good hasn’t always been easy. It was a lot of hard days, and it was a lot of confusion. Good has meant a lot of growth, though. It meant slow change as I started to experience more good days than hard days on a day-to-day basis.
A lot did happen this year. I did take a much-needed trip to Germany with my family in the summer, where I got to see an old friend who studied at my high school on an exchange program in 2007. I also had quite a few visitors this year–one of my best college friends came to celebrate my birthday with me in early March, and my mom and Grandma came to visit in late March. My grandma had never been to DC before, and I was so happy to show her around my adopted city. My Kindergarten bestie and oldest friend came for a long weekend in October and all three of my immediate family members came to celebrate Thanksgiving with me in my DC apartment–the first Thanksgiving we had together since 2014. I quit two jobs (my temp position in January and my coffee shop position in August) and started three more (VIPKID in February, substitute teaching in September, and a really low time commitment tutoring opportunity in the summer). I am now officially an independent contractor in all three of my jobs, so I’ve learned the joys of removing tax money from paychecks on my own, as well as the frustration of not always getting work. I also moved from my first DC apartment to my current place.
Continue reading “The Good Year Revisited”
Moving to a different city without any job security waiting for you is scary. I’m so glad I did it. I feel more at peace about where I am than I have in ages. It’s still scary, though.
I went to brunch with a fellow graduate from my alma mater a couple weeks ago-she recently acquired a job in DC and moved here–and we were sharing stories about our experiences abroad. She had recently studied abroad in Europe and I, of course, am a few months back from Thailand. We started talking about places and the feelings we get from those places–how she enjoyed her time abroad, but how the city she was living in during her study abroad experience just didn’t feel right for her. How she didn’t feel inspired or alive in it. I was able to relate so much with her because that’s exactly how I felt about Thailand. That’s why I moved placements at the beginning of November and why I ultimately left Thailand in the end. While my second and final placement felt more right to me, it still wasn’t enough. While I will always love Minnesota because it’s my home, living there didn’t feel right, either. Now that I’m in DC, I just know this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being. I think places are like books–the best books are the ones that you read at a time in life when you resonate with them most. Likewise, the best places are those that you can resonate with most at a given time. Thailand was a fantastic place for me to travel through at this point in my life–but it wasn’t the right place for me to Continue reading “In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt”
Currently feeling: Vulnerable and confused.
Vulnerable because I’ve been doing things and having conversations with people and just generally putting myself in situations that are outside my comfort zone pretty consistently these last few weeks.
Confused because I’ve been constantly questioning myself lately–who am I and what am I doing in this life and what do I want? I feel as if I’ve having an identity crisis of personality and ideology and values. Am I really an introvert or do I just have social anxiety? But can I call myself an extrovert–that goes against everything I know about myself. Maybe I’m somewhere in the middle because I do need my alone time but also have discovered over the past few months how much I thrive with people. What do I actually want and how will I accomplish that?
Thoughts and feelings and ideas are racing through my brain at lighting speed. I don’t know how to silence them. I’m struggling with concentrating. With just sitting still.
I’m eager to go home, yet want to make the most of my last month and a half abroad. Do I really want to spend all of March and half of April traveling? Honestly? No. I’m so exhausted from everything that my time abroad has taught me and I just want to go home. But plane tickets are bought and budget airlines aren’t about convenience and getting your money back in ticket canceling and I don’t want to lose that money. I want to go to these places and I’m going to go to them, even though I don’t really want to right now…because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.
I’m in a weird place right now. A place that is really hard in some respects, but I also know it is serving me so very well.
I don’t shy away from vulnerability and I guess it’s natural to feel confusion now and then, especially at 22.
So that’s me.
How have you been lately?
Last March, when I took a road trip to Seattle with two of my best friends from college, we had one simple motto that was our official trip slogan: “Save money, live better.” (I claim no originality for this…we did knowingly borrow said slogan from Walmart)
In many ways, I would say we were successful. We booked a hostel dorm room instead of paying for a more expensive hotel room (and, as a result, met some awesome new friends). Other than a few overly expensive dinners (one of those was an accident due to a misunderstanding between us and our waitress about a nightly special), we kept our food expenditure pretty low. We relied on our feet to walk around the city instead of using up gas. We also took in as many free sites in Seattle as possible–Pike Place Market, the gorgeous waterfront, and the architecturally fabulous Seattle Public Library to name a few.
That said, I left Seattle with an unfinished feeling that I can only now describe–after allowing for time and space and clarity–as lack of satisfaction with my time there. Really, I find myself wondering if we did indeed, live better by saving money the way we did. It’s not that I didn’t have a great time, because I did and I will always cherish the memories with my two college friends there. More so, there was the fundamental feeling that I had missed out on so much of the city because generally speaking, if it cost money, we didn’t do it. In our poor college student minds, this was logical to us. We were still seeing and experiencing a new place, so what Continue reading “Travel Realizatons–The Value of Putting Money into Experiences”
When I first decided to come to Thailand, traveling wasn’t a priority.
I came to Thailand because I’ve always been interested in living abroad for a time and I had recently developed a interest in education.
Sure, I guess I figured I would occasionally go on trips and I had talked with blogger friends who live a reasonable distance from Thailand about potentially visiting them.
That said, I never considered that traveling would ever become a part of my identity.
Than again, there’s so much about Thailand that I never considered would happen–the amazing, life-long friends I’d meet in my TESOL course…how deeply I care about my students and how badly I want them to succeed…how in love I became with this country in such a short amount of time…how I sometimes think about how I’m twenty-two years old and I live and work in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and holy man, this is the amazing, post-college life I have created for myself. No, I never considered any of that. How could I? When I signed myself up to move to Thailand, I knew I’d learn a lot in the process–but didn’t realize how fundamentally it would change me.
As I move on with my life here, as I become more aware of why I’m here and what I hope to accomplish as an expat, I’m realizing more and more that I do identify a a traveler.
To be a traveler requires a whole different mindset. To be a traveler requires less of a concentration on material goods and more on living and breathing and experiencing. To be a traveler requires an understanding that money is necessary to get from place to place–and that a lot less of it is needed than one might think.
As I look ahead to my two month semester break in March and April, I’m realizing that if I want Continue reading “To Be a Traveler”
Once upon a time in a far away land (also known as my college town on the Minnesota prairie), I sat in a psychiatrists office–anxious, nervous, and really, really scared. For the past few months, my life had been turned upside down. Since January, I had been experiencing severe anxiety that often times bordered on depression on a daily basis. It was now late March and there seemed to be no end in sight. My mind was going to dark places that I had never experienced before and I was terrified. My life had never before been clouded with so much darkness and I had no idea how to cope.
Furthermore, I had no idea why this was happening. At this time, I was in the middle of my third year of college and I knew that, in a year and half, I’d be graduating. I was, admittedly, quite nervous about my unknown, post-college future. I had also come out of an extremely unhealthy relationship a few months prior. That said, I couldn’t understand how my previous relationship or my nerves about the future landed me in such a dark place, questioning my very existence daily, hourly, every single minute of every single day.
So, there I found myself in the psychiatrists office. Looking for help. Looking for answers. I had been in counseling at my university all semester and though it was helping, I wanted something more. I had tried anti-anxiety medication and within a day of taking the first pill, I became so severely depressed that my mind and body felt numb to the world. I could barely function and I was terrified. I went off the medication as quickly as I started it; I needed something more and medication wasn’t my answer.
So, I found myself in this psychiatrists office where, after an hour-long appointment of questions and discussion, I walked out with a diagnosis–though I was told I would need more than one Continue reading “When You Simultaneously Yearn for and Struggle With Change (Spoiler: This is Me)”
With a new year comes new goals and a new outlook.
I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about how I’ve been living my life up until now and the changes I can make to ensure I live a fuller and more enriching life.
With this reflection, I’ve realized two things:
- I expect way too much in life. Those expectation keep me from living in the moment and being thankful for what I have.
- I am very confident in myself, but I don’t trust that confidence in situations that are outside my comfort zone.
I’m realizing more than ever in this new country where I am far away from my family and Continue reading “New Year, New Outlook”
I have a confession to make:
What a way to start of the new year, right?
But this is a good thing. I promise!
I’m not physically lost. I know exactly were I am. I could point it out exactly on a map. As I write this (being the dutiful blogger that I am and getting this done ahead of time), I’m currently physically sitting in my apartment in Central Thailand. By the time this post goes live, I’ll be sitting on a beach somewhere down south, perhaps a little hungover from a too exciting New Years Eve.
So no, I’m not physically lost. Rather, I feel mentally lost…
A ‘who am I and what do I aim to do with my life and I really have no fucking clue how to navigate this world that I’m in’ lost.
I’m feeling rather calm about the whole ordeal. No need to freak out here. Just accepting these feelings as they come, ya know?
— — — —
The past few months have been a whirlwind for me. I’ve had very little time to process everything that has happened. Now, finally, I feel like I’m settling into my town. I feel comfortable here. I know where things are; though the language barrier is continuing to be difficult, I’m picking up on more Thai and trying my best to utilize that in conversation. After spending the last couple months here drawing inward and trying to make sense of my place here, I’m finally eager to go out and meet and develop relationships with Thai people.
I’m so happy to be here and can’t imagine living anywhere else right now. Though there are certain aspects of home that I miss, I don’t crave them. I don’t desire to have them in my life.
Thailand is where I need to be right now. This I know with confidence.
Thailand is the place where I’m choosing to figure myself out. While I learned so much Continue reading “2016, the Beginning: Lost and Okay With It.”
Oh hey, I guess it’s December 25th today.
By western standards, that means it’s Christmas.
By Britta living in a primarily Buddhist country standards–it means it’s just another day. As in, oh hey, I work today!
Tis the season to be jolly?
Sure doesn’t feel like it! For someone who’s used to spending the holidays in a frigid climate, I can’t grasp my head around the fact that it’s December…the holiday season…that it’s almost the new year.
It all feels weird and I’m okay with that…because lately, in the last couple years, I’ve been finding the holiday season more stressful than anything. Because I love this country and don’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
Most Thais view Christmas as a western curiosity–so yes, we are having Christmas festivities at school today, and yes, there are decorations here and there (by here and there, I mean primarily at Tesco). But it feels different. It doesn’t have the same meaning here.
In Thailand, I’ll be celebrating Christmas (and Hanukkah, even though that ended a few weeks ago) with some of TESOL friends. That said, it WILL be different because it IS different. This is Continue reading “It’s Christmas?”