Embracing Change, Savoring the Present

August has been a month of change.

We had a new housemate move in on August 1 (after an exhausting search), and I’ve been slowly adjusting to the new dynamic. While it’s nice to no longer be the house newbie (not that anybody in my house is paying attention), adjusting to change is always a slow process for me. I had just gotten used to our dynamic after my May 1st move in when one of my housemates announced he was moving for grad school. Ah, but we must go with the flow of things. We snagged a fellow Midwesterner to fill the room, and it’s been good thus far.

Professionally, I started a full-time job last week. It’s been a bit jarring, since I haven’t worked full time in over a year, but I’m excited…and I’m also grateful for the steady income that will soon be coming in. Subbing, while fruitful, was not always a financially dependable endeavor! I’ve joined the staff at a school I subbed at frequently last year. It’s been great, because I already feel comfortable at the school, I know a lot of the staff, and I know a lot of the students. Staff PD was last week, which meant a lot of sitting and listening to presenters and PAPERWORK. I’ll be the teacher’s assistant in fourth grade English Language Arts. So far, I really like my fourth grade team, and I think the lead ELA teacher and I will work well together. I’m so excited to learn and grow as an educator. I wanted to spend at least one year in a classroom (as opposed to moving around to multiple different classrooms as a sub) before heading to grad school, so I’m right where I want to be. School starts today, and I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the swarm of excited fourth graders that I’ll have to maneuver come 8:00 am.

August has been change, but it’s been good. I’m so grateful to be where I am right now. Life feels good. The last couple years have been incredibly challenging, and while I believe all those challenges were needed for my personal growth, I finally feel like I’m in a really good place. A place where I want to be, as opposed to a place where I’m Continue reading “Embracing Change, Savoring the Present”

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24 Things I Learned at 24

Is it just me, or does 25 seem way older than 24?

Something about being a quarter century old seems a little insane (though I recognize the subjectivity of that statement).

As I move into my next year on Earth, I am, again, looking back at the lessons this past year brought. 24, overall, was a good year. It was a challenging year, and I learned a lot, but I’m better off for it all. I felt good about 24 at its outset, and that feeling delivered. I’m downright excited for 25. As I take these lessons from 24 into 25, I have confidence that my time as a quarter centurion will be memorable:

1. Life is too short to spend in toxic situations with people who don’t lift you up.

2. Mindsets don’t change overnight…it takes time and energy and practice.

3. Inner change starts with personal awareness.

4. Not everybody has a growth mindset, and that’s not something you can force on someone.

5. Saying negative things about someone for no better reason than that you don’t like the way they are as a person doesn’t accomplish much of anything. It may feel good in the moment, but moments are fleeting. Your unkind words say more about you.

6. Focusing less on other people’s (often perceived and sometimes totally inaccurate) problems and focusing more on what I can do to lift myself up is all around for the best. Continue reading “24 Things I Learned at 24”

The Art of Messy Living Situations

I have a confession to make:

I am wholly uncomfortable in my current living situation. Luckily, my lease is up at the end of April. That still leaves me with a good three months to bask in discomfort, though.

— — — —

A few months ago, I briefly mentioned in a post that I wasn’t friends with my roommate, that we didn’t have a whole lot in common.

This wasn’t untruthful. My roommate and I aren’t friends. In the nine months that we’ve shared a space, I’ve found we have little in common. Yet, I didn’t divulge the whole truth…

At the time, I had a lot of pent-up anger towards my roommate. Until very recently, I had a lot of pent-up anger towards my roommate. I had pent up anger, because shortly after I moved in, she began exhibiting some behaviors that made me uncomfortable–they fed into my personal space and left me feeling emotionally drained. I felt further anger because, at the time, I didn’t have the tools to create a healthy boundary from those behaviors…in effect, I was angry at myself for not knowing how to fix my reaction. I also felt anger, because I felt bad about feeling anger. I felt bad for feeling anger at the flawed person I saw inside of her, and I felt bad because I didn’t react more maturely to things she did (and didn’t do) that upset me. Instead of feeling my feelings to move on, I shamed myself into believing the problem was me. And guess what…feelings fester when you don’t let them out. So that anger magnified.

The problem, of course, isn’t me. The problem isn’t her (though there’s a part of me that, admittedly, would still like to blame her). The problem is just that–the problem: two flawed individuals (aren’t we all?) who found themselves living together, who had trouble clicking, who find it difficult to communicate with each other for a variety of reasons, and who, in the nature of flawed humans, don’t always make the most mature and graceful decisions in dealing with each other.

I didn’t tell the whole truth in that post, because that wasn’t the point of the post. I also didn’t want to risk unnecessary name calling and wholly biased assumptions about a Continue reading “The Art of Messy Living Situations”

The Good Year Revisited

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”

Hanging Up The Apron

Today marks the beginning of my last week working as a coffee shop barista. Maybe not forever–hey, who knows what the future will bring–but for now. For the foreseeable future.

It’s bittersweet. This is the first job I got in DC, not a week after I made myself at home in a tight, un air-conditioned, vacant loft space in a college friend’s crappy Arlington, Virginia rental house (this isn’t an insult to my college friend–she no longer lives there, but considered it a dump herself. It was an old house that wasn’t well-kept up).

I worked there 15-20 hours a week last summer until I got my temp job in September. During the six months I spent at my 9-5 office job, I worked at the coffee shop on the weekends. My financial well-being was lacking when I moved to DC–teaching in Thailand enriched my life, but certainly not my bank account–and I needed the extra money. Plus, I didn’t know what the future would bring post-temp, and I wanted to ensure I had a back up income. This was an intuitive move–when I started my part-time online teaching job, I needed those coffee shop hours.

I certainly didn’t appreciate the job enough while I had it. In the year and two months of my employment at the coffee shop, I spent more than enough time griping about it. I was hesitant to take the job in the first place–I had already done the barista gig the summer before I moved to Thailand and thought I should try something new. Additionally, I believed that making minimum wage as a college graduate was insulting (granted, DC minimum wage is much higher than the national average, but it was an ego thing–which I’ve since worked to quell). My mom had to give me a pep talk about how IT’S A JOB and you currently don’t have one, which knocked a bit of sense into me. When I got my part-time ESL job and realized I wanted to pursue teaching, I spent more than enough time looking through job postings for additional teaching opportunities, to a future when Continue reading “Hanging Up The Apron”

What Is This Place?

A valid question, of late.

A lot of personal growth and change has been happening in recent months. I could go into the details of all that growth and change–a previous version of Britta surely would have–but now,  being so open on the internet seems incredibly invasive to me. While I may be one of over seven billion people in the world, and does it really matter what I write on this tiny corner of the internet?–the fact of the matter is, I’ve changed. What I’m comfortable putting out to the world–even to just a few readers here and there–has changed.

I’m not really sure where this blog is going. I’m not ready to be done with it, but I also don’t have a clear vision for its future. I have always seen this blog as an extension of myself–so I am perfectly fine with letting it mirror the changes in my life. I’m perfectly fine with taking time of off from writing to allow for further evolution in myself.

I suppose that’s okay, though. It’s okay to let ideas be for a while. It’s okay to let them form, mature, take differing and wildly imaginative shapes.

I have no idea what this place is right now, but it’ll figure itself out in time.

What am I Doing With My Life?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a post about me.

My life, what I’m up to, where I’m going.

So as to ensure that this blog doesn’t become defunct, I thought I’d take a moment to write an update about my life.

Back in January, I wrote that I recently discovered my love of teaching. Additionally, I wrote that I was planning to move abroad again before the year’s end.

Today, only one of those statements remains true. I still love teaching. I love it more and more every day. I will not, however, be moving abroad again before this year’s end.

— — — —

The last few months have been a whirlwind of growth and change and internal understanding. I’ve come to a lot of understandings about myself. I’ve realized that, during my youth and formative years, I lost sight of myself and my real, true passions. There can be a lot of pain and confusion in navigating the world as a highly sensitive person. As a child, I didn’t have any real understanding for why I cried so easily, why I seemed to be bothered by sounds other peope didn’t notice (I’m acutely sensitive to sound), and why I seemed to get tired so much quicker than my peers. Highly Sensitive wasn’t in my vocabularly and it wasn’t in my parents vocabulary–and because I didn’t know why I was the way I was and also because I wanted to fit in with my peers, I unconsiously managed to lock down that part of me.

I came across the term “highly sensitive person” for the first time in college and instantly recognized many of the traits in myself. However, because I had so severely repressed so much of what it truly means to be HSP, I didn’t understand what that meant for me as a person. It is only within the last few months that I’m starting to Continue reading “What am I Doing With My Life?”

Twenty-Three Things I learned at 23

1. I want to be an elementary school teacher.

2. Trying to save people who didn’t ask for your help in the first places isn’t a good idea.  Doing so might, in fact, make them a bit peeved.

3. An office is not and will never be a natural work habitat for me (see #1).

4. I have been unconsciously faking extrovert for the past ten or so years…

5. …and that, in turn, has made me rather lost unproductive in a lot of respects.

6. The people who are supposed to be in your life have a habit of showing up without fuss.

7. The Washington bus system is cheaper and less high maintenance than the Washington Metro.

8. Other people process the world differently than me, and that’s okay.

9. Social progress isn’t necessarily fluid or constant (or, America can, indeed, elect a Continue reading “Twenty-Three Things I learned at 23”

On Growth and Pain and Being Open

The thing about growth is that’s it’s fucking painful.

If you’re trying to grow and aren’t feeling some sort of ache or pain in the pit of your stomach (or wherever your internal hurt manifests), you’re probably not doing it right.

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately because I’ve been focusing on experiencing and processing my world and the changes happening in and around me. My mind has been overwhelmed with a lot of internal and external stimuli, and I haven’t really been interested in sharing my thoughts with the world. I’ve been journaling a lot to help with processing, but that writing is mostly incoherent and messy.

I’m finding that I really miss sharing my internal growth experiences with the blogosphere, though. As an introvert who (generally speaking) writes better than she speaks, and who has a tendency to get lost in her head, I love the conversations that I can spark up in the blogosphere. I also appreciate the way I can find commonalities in my thought processes with other bloggers. I all too easily forget that feelings are universal and that everyone has gone through tough times, and exchanging stories helps me remember that. I suppose that’s why I read fiction, too (as opposed to non-fiction). Through stories, we can find the universality of the human condition–and that is both awe-inspiring and comforting.

Anywho, I’ve been experiencing a lot of internal growth lately, but I also feel like I have very few outlets for expressing that growth.

When I look back on old blog posts, I used to be incredibly open about my feelings and experiences (perhaps too open at times). I think people admired that about my writing, but I didn’t think twice about it–to me, being open was natural. I’m the type of person that needs to write or talk through my feelings and experiences to fully understand them. As an INFJ personality type, my introverted intuition and extraverted feeling make me really good at understanding other people–but I often find myself so caught up in figuring out what makes other people tick, that I forget to pay attention to myself. It’s why two of the major realizations I’ve had in the past year came from conversations with other people. I realized I was unhappy in Thailand because a friend explicitly pointed that out to me. I realized I wanted to actually pursue teaching as a career in a conversation when a teaching opportunity was suggested to me.

So I write it out, I talk it out, and I usually learn something in the process.

The thing is, I’ve been actively refraining from doing these therapeutic excercise because I’ve found myself in situations in the past year where my openness wasn’t received well. In some of these situations, I would say that I jumped the gun in opening up to a person–mostly because I had been so self-absorbed that I failed to realize my relationship with the other person wasn’t at a level where they were comfortable with such forthright sharing. While these situations definitely allowed me to consider whether what I’m saying to others is mutually beneficial and worth  both of our while (in other words, major learning experiences), they have still left me feeling a bit cynical about the whole process of opening up. I’ve been wondering lately–why bother with these exercises when people don’t seem to care? This mentality has spread itself to the blogosphere, where I’ve remained pretty silent about my personal life in the last few months; in other words, I unconsciously translated a few negative interactions that I had with people into a “whole world” mentality. As in: “Because a few people didn’t receive my openness well in the last year and left me feel slighted, that obviously means the whole world is going to receive my openness the same way and continue to leave me feel slighted.”

Of course, that’s not true, and such a mentality is a bit self-absorbed in its own right. That said, the human psyche is a powerful thing, and we all too often develop negative mentalities without thinking. There are nearly eight billion people in this world, and there are surely people out Continue reading “On Growth and Pain and Being Open”

Don’t Delete

I’ve thought many times over about creating a new blog and letting this one go.

In 2.5 years that I’ve written at this site, I’ve grown a lot. If you ever go back into this blog’s archives, you’ll find that my voice has been consistently changing. My writing has improved significantly since I started this blog, and my voice has grown with me.

If you ever go back into my blog’s archives, you’ll also find some pretty embarrassing stuff (I won’t willingly provide those links for you, but you can find them if you do enough sifting). As I look back at them, some of the things that were taking up my thoughts during my senior year of college were quite immature. Even in the last year (damn, the last month) I’ve matured (and am continuing to mature) in a lot of ways, and the voice I utilize in my writing reflects that.

It would be easy to delete everything, to belittle my past thoughts and mindsets as not worthy of seeing the light of day ever again. Indeed, there are a couple posts I have done that with–in one way or another, I found them inappropriate to have on my blog. That’s a rare occurrence, though, and I prefer to not make that the norm.

When it all comes down to it, my blog is my story. Since my senior year of college, I’ve documented so much that is important to me here. While I haven’t been blogging a whole Continue readingDon’t Delete