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”
Periods of great change have always been hard for me. After a relatively peaceful summer, which included a much-needed trip to Germany with my family, but was otherwise very quiet–a lot of working and reading and daydreaming about a future when I wouldn’t be a coffee shop barista–I’ve found myself plunged into the very future of my summer daydreams, and am extremely overwhelmed by it all.
Intuitively, I feel very good about the future. Good things are coming. Diving further into teaching feels right, and I’m so excited to grow further as a teacher. Yet, the present in wrought with a lot of anxiety and emotion, as times of change usually are for me. I don’t sleep as well during times of change, and I tire easier–a combination of the lack of sleep and the very fact that the physical symptoms of anxiety are exhausting AF. Yet, I’m impatient. Oh so impatient. I want to rush head first into things. I’m reminding myself again and again of how, if I want to keep my mental and physical health at all in check, I have to take change slower. How that’s not a bad thing. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my yoga mat, and I’ve been doing meditation excercises. I’ve been reading, and I’ve been reaching out to people who impact my life positively. I’ve been trying to bottle up less emotion (something I’m REAL good at). I’ve been talking through feelings with friends and writing, too.
I do feel the need to write more, which feels good. It feels natural. It feels healthy. It feels like me. I also feel the need to be more social, which I’m notoriously bad at (it’s so much easier to sit at home and be an anti-social introvert!), but also desperately need. While I felt rather content to be alone for much of the summer (which was beneficial in many ways in terms of building up more self-awareness and internal understanding) I’m discovering that a healthy, balanced Britta needs positive interactions with others as much as she needs time by herself to recharge.
I feel this incredible need to go out in the world. I love my online teaching job. I love the relationships I’ve developed with my regular students, and it blows my mind that I can positively impact a child’s life from across the world with a computer and internet connection. I’ve learned a lot from them, too. Yet, I find it strangely unsatisfying to work from home. It’s convenient. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s joyful. Yet, I get antsy when I spend too Continue reading “On Change and Acceptance: Fall 2017”
If we were having coffee, we might meet at one of the plethora of little cafes within twenty minutes walking distance of my house in both directions. Perhaps, if we felt a little extravagant, we might be settled in for a nice, long brunch complete with not just coffee, but maybe a mimosa or two. Brunch is huge on the East Coast, at least compared to the Midwest, and DCers mean business when they do brunch. In addition to multiple brunch spots nearby, there are so many things to do see and do in my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods. I can’t wait to explore more and find the best places for eating, drinking, and entertainment. Today is my day off, so I’m taking it slow but also want to give myself some time to explore more. When I was walking to the grocery store today, I stumbled upon two farmers markets within a few blocks of each other. I was super psyched about that and bought some local peaches from the one nearest to my house!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my third housemate moved in earlier this week and she’s been great so far. Last night, we hit happy hour together at a nearby restaurant and it was great to talk to her and get to know her more. Overall, the dynamic of our house is shaping up to be really awesome and I think it will only improve when fourth Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Settle In”
If we were having coffee, I would tell you about how the majority of this week has consisted of job applications with minimal exploring in between. Although there is so much to see and do in the DC area, being unemployed has resulted in me staying at home and not doing a whole lot in an effort to save money. That’s okay because when it all comes down to it, I’m a bit of a homebody. However, it’s also gotten a bit excessive to the point where I’ve started having conversations with the cat in between job applications.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, in the context of how I perceive myself and in the context of how others perceive me. As I write this, I am wrapping up one semester of teaching English in Thailand with the intention of heading back home to the United States after a bit of travel. Six months ago, I would have told you that I’d for sure sign on after another semester in Thailand; the idea of living abroad was still enticing and new at that point and I couldn’t imagine any context where I would want to come home. In fact, back in September, upon my arrival in Thailand, I wrote in my journal that going home would be a step back.
Why go home when there is a world of opportunity to explore…
Since I’ve been rather silent here on the blog for the past few weeks…
Currently: Northern Thailand. I am presently sitting in a small room in the guest house I’ll be staying in for the next few days as I explore a new part of Thailand. There’s no AC and it’s a bit dingy, but it was mega cheap and I can’t complain. It’s also quaint and homey and hearing the calm conversation of the Thai people and the small fountain outside my window is quite comforting.
The last two weeks: Denmark and Germany. I had such a wonderful time being shown around Europe by an old friend who is an au pair there. Her and her friends made my experience there so memorable. More to come on that later.
The next two weeks: Thailand. I have a few days to myself and am using that to embark on a short solo trip. My parents will arrive soon and I can’t wait to show them around this country that I’ve called home for the past six months. For now, it’s just me, myself, and the small amount of possessions I’ve carried with me for the last six months.
Later (or, when the next two weeks are over): Minnesota, U.S.A. It’ll be strange to be back in my hometown but I’m ready. These last few months have been really hard for me, but I’m so grateful for all that I’ve taken away from them and all that I’ve been able to see and do in the process. Thailand will always be one of my homes on this Earth, but it’s time to move on.
I expect to have a lot to write about once I return to U.S. soil.
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.
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, 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”
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.”