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”

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Where I’m at, Now

November has been rough.

It’s been an anxiety-ridden month filled with uncertainty and confusion.

On a national scale, I was rocked by the outcome of the U.S. election. I walked around on election day convinced, like much of the rest of America, that we would wake up the next morning to the first female president-elect ever. It was going to be historic and beautiful and I would be joyful.

On a personal level, I’ve been experiencing a massive amount of change as well. I’ve had an exhausting few weeks where I’ve been processing not only the change happening around me–in the wake of the election results and the way people have been reacting to them–but also in accepting that there is a great change happening within me.

I see a lot of parallels between the two that I’m going to attempt to articulate here.

— — — —

In the aftermath of the election, I simultaneously realized that not only was the projected outcome of this election grounded so much in expectation, but that I live so much of my life grounded in expectation–and how unhappy that makes me.

Lately, I’ve been frequently reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine back when I was in Thailand: “You think too much, and that keeps you from actually doing all the things you want to do,” she told me. It’s a truth I’ve been working on changing this entire year–and one that became increasingly apparent to me throughout the course of this month.

It’s a fine balance for me, thinking and doing. As an intuitive introvert, thinking and processing is how I understand the world around me. I love going out into the world and experiencing it. Too many experiences overwhelm and exhaust me, Continue reading “Where I’m at, Now”

My Search for Personal Independence

One of the things I have always prided myself on is my independence.

I have never felt the need to go along with the most recent trends (as teenage Britta proclaimed more than once with much disdain, “Ugg boots are so appropriately named…because they’re soo ugly”) or to go along with societal ideals that make little sense or seem soul-sucking (there seriously has to be a more productive and effective method of working than the 9-5 job construct). I am a firm believer that we have built a society around ourselves that is much too complex, and the idea of having to participate in it is, really, somewhat maddening.

I listen to my heart and do what feels right, regardless of what other people think.

I mean, this is how I ended up in Thailand in the first place. That independent spirit, that desire for adventure and, quite frankly, the desire to avoid our ever-complicated society for as long as possible.

Seemed simple, right?

In fact, for me, it was almost too simple.

When I tell people about my Thailand experience, I often hear, “Oh, you are so brave. I could never do that.” Meaning, they could never move to a different country with a completely different language and culture.

Well let me tell you, it was hard. Living there was hard. The country and the culture were so exhausting to me and, as much as I wanted to become more comfortable there, to call Thailand a long-term home (because, oh, I did want that), it eventually became quite apparent that that wasn’t going to happen.

So, yes, actually living there didn’t work out for me. But–getting on a plane and actually moving there? Geez, that was almost too easy. Too easy that I barely even thought about it. And you know why? Because once I got there, I didn’t have to Continue reading “My Search for Personal Independence”

My Pursuit of Happiness

A handful of days ago, I was sitting in my friend Mo’s Bangkok apartment in tears. I had come to Bangkok for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of one of my TESOL friends; I had been so excited before leaving Nakhon Pathom for Bangkok–I was convinced the weekend would be fabulous. I recall thinking it might the first weekend in a long time that I’d be excited to go out with friends…

Well. It wasn’t.

Instead?

Instead, I spent the whole weekend feeling incredibly sad. Incredibly homesick. Incredibly lost. While I watched all of my friends have an amazing time, I felt like I was only half there. I wasn’t enjoying myself and all I wanted in the world was to go home…and not home to Nakhon Pathom, mind you–but home to the United States, to Minnesota.

It was only when I broke down at the end of the weekend in Mo’s apartment that the clarity I had needed all weekend came to the surface. “I just want to go home.” I blubbered to my friends. “I don’t know what’s happening to me…but I feel so lost and sad and just want to go home.”

It was in that moment that my friend Sarah looked me right in the eye and said something I knew instinctively to be true: “Britta, you’re not happy here. You’re not even happy with us.”

Her words rang in my head: You’re not happy here. In a matter of moments, the state of mind that had made up my whole semester made sense. Truthfully, in the last few weeks, I had come to realize this. Deep down, I had known that I wasn’t happy in my current situation. I was afraid to admit it to myself, though, because I was so determined to stay in Thailand and live my life as an expat.

Sarah was right, though. She is right. I love teaching and I love my students, but I haven’t experienced a true and lasting feeling of contentedness in Thailand since leaving the emotional high of Chiang Mai. I come home from school at the end of the day and don’t know what to do with myself. I haven’t been successful at meeting Thai people here and more so, I’m finding that I don’t want to. When I do meet up with my TESOL friends, I find myself not wanting to do anything. I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore partier in the slightest, but I do like to go out on occasion–and I have had absolutely no desire to do that at all here. I feel uninspired and lost and although I’ve learned so much and tested myself in many ways in these past few months in Thailand, my life has felt more lifeless than anything. There have been moments, yes–mostly while traveling with TESOL friends, but also instances at school when I had a really successful class or after I’ve had a great interaction with a local in my town–but they have been far and few Continue reading “My Pursuit of Happiness”

This is a Post Where I Make Important Realizations About Myself. That is All.

Today is a day of clarity.

Let me tell you why.

These last few weeks have been…strange. Strange in a way that I haven’t really been able to put into words. I was very aware of feeling off, but I didn’t really know how to describe it to anyone–let alone, myself–so I didn’t. I wasn’t ignoring the feeling, per se. I was more confused than anything. Being in a new town, in a new job, in a completely different country–it is all so much, and processing everything has been really hard. Unable to describe my own feelings but yearning to write, I turned to fiction to soothe my nerves…yet, I was still on edge…because although nothing was seriously wrong, I still didn’t know how to describe all these feelings going on inside of me.

But…I think I can now. After a much needed weekend to myself (seriously, I’ve done next to nothing, and it’s been amazing), I feel like I have the space to distance myself from these emotions and really consider them.

Let me explain:

Being in Chiang Mai during my October TESOL course was easily one of the highest emotional periods of my life. The amount of joy and happiness I experienced during October 2015–for such a consecutive period of time–was simply unheard of for me before that. It’s not that I was unhappy before my TESOL course. It’s not that life was terrible before TESOL. In fact, it was the exact opposite. My last year of college was an amazing period of personal growth. My last semester of college, specifically, was easily my best semester of college. A period of my life that I will always cherish. This past summer, working as an espresso bar barista at a gas station, of all places, was also an incredible experience for me. I pushed myself in new ways by working in the food service industry, and I can safely say that some of my coworkers fundamentally shaped me into the person I am today (and that is looking back to three months ago). I loved my job as a barista and will always cherish the, albeit temporary, home I Continue reading “This is a Post Where I Make Important Realizations About Myself. That is All.”

From Chiang Mai to Nong Khai–TESOL Reflections and Taking the Next Step

Once upon a time, a girl named Britta moved halfway across the world in search of new opportunities, a new life, and new adventure.

She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she didn’t realize how hard it would actually be.

And she also never imagined she would meet a group of people who would ultimately change her life forever.

— — — —

Okay, screw this writing in the third person. I’m annoying myself right now.

I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Nong Khai and I’m not going to lie–the last day and a half has been one of the hardest of my life. After a month of safety in Chiang Mai (and oh man, did I not realize how safe it really was), I’m completely and totally on my own. I have yet to meet anyone in Nong Khai who speaks enough English to have an understandable conversation (though perhaps I’m not looking in the right places). I tried to have a conversation with the lady at the hotel who made my breakfast earlier today and ended up bursting in to tears when I got back to my room because I was just that overwhelmed by that tiny conversation, or lack there of one. Continue reading “From Chiang Mai to Nong Khai–TESOL Reflections and Taking the Next Step”

Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures, Second Edition

Welcome to the second edition of Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures!

Today I woke up feeling border-line depressed. This was surprising for me, since I haven’t felt anything close to depression since last spring when I experienced my absolute worst mental health issues to date. Usually my anxiety is all I have to deal with mental-health wise; I very rarely feel depressed at all, if ever. That being said, although I have more problems with anxiety in general, I am still susceptible to depression. In case you didn’t know (and you probably don’t because I’ve never mentioned it before) my official diagnosis is an adjustment disorder. Basically, this means my body reacts to periods of transition much more intensely than other people’s bodies do; both anxiety and depression can manifest themselves during Continue reading “Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures, Second Edition”

Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures, First Edition

Last spring, I participated in the 100 Days of Happy challenge that has been going around the internet for a little while. During a time period where I was experiencing severe anxiety on a day-to-day basis, this challenge developed into a way for me to push forward. I was bound and determined to finish this challenge and I did. Taking pictures every day developed into a safe routine and though it wasn’t always easy to take a picture every day, especially on my worst anxiety-filled days, it was, in the end, a very satisfying experience.

With 100 Happy Days in mind, I bring you my newest addition to What is Past is Prologue–“Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures”–a post series that will document the good things in life through, well, pictures…the title is kind of self explanatory, I think. I don’t know how frequent this Continue reading “Life’s Little Victories as Told Through Pictures, First Edition”