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”

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2016: A Reflection

2016, I have decided, will be a year of confidence, of poise, of adventure. It will be putting myself out there in more ways while also continuing to nurture the introvert inside of me. It will be sticking up for myself and chasing after my dreams. It will be blossoming even further into the strong, independent woman I know is inside of me. It will be having faith in my decisions, not doubting what my heart tells me.

 January 3, 2016

— — — —

 2016 was a year. On a global scale, many would agree that it sucked.

On a personal level, it sometimes sucked, but it was mostly quite full. If 2015 was the best year of my life thus far (as I’m pretty sure I dubbed it at its close), 2016 has been the most enriching. In many respects, it was a very painful year—particularly in its early months. 2016 was completely losing all sense of self while simultaneously trying my best to live in a foreign country and culture. It was being alone in Thailand on my birthday, with head lice and pneumonia in tow—at the same time. It was striking out independently in search of my place in this world and feeling a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt along the way.

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It was also leaving these cuties and the joy of teaching them (on the rare occasions when they wanted to be taught) behind, unsuccessfully holding back tears as I left their classrooms for the last time, because the love, kindness, and intellect of children is grossly undervalued and because they taught me so much.

That said, 2016 did have its bright spots: traveling in Europe with an old high school friend; showing my parents around the beautiful country I called home for six months; having no clue what the heck to do with my life post-Thailand, but trusting my gut in Continue reading “2016: A Reflection”

CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.

Do you ever get the feeling that something is just off? That something is off and you can’t necessarily put a finger on why. That something is off and you know that, even if it’s not necessarily convenient or easy, you have to make a change?

Today I should be heading to my first day of school at Teacher Britta at a secondary school in Nong Khai.

But…I’m not.

Instead, I’m catching a flight to another part of Thailand to settle into a new placement, to a new life.

— — — —

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nong Khai. It’s a bustling town. There’s actually quite a lot to do here. It’s in a cool location, right on the border of Laos. There is absolutely no reason to not like Nong Khai.

It’s not you Nong Khai, I promise. It’s me.

From the moment I got here, I had a fleeting sense that something wasn’t right. I pushed it aside, though. This is my placement, after all. I shouldn’t question it. Right?

Still. I found myself avoiding it. I had already had a two day trip to Laos planned when I got here Continue reading “CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.”

Reflections from the Other Side…Or, Going Back to College as an Alum

This morning I woke up on my college campus for the first time in almost four months.

My college campus alma mater.

I woke up in the on campus apartment that the friend I was staying with lives in, rose from the couch that had been my bed for the night, and promptly went to look out the window.

It was a beautiful day. Gorgeous. The campus mall was brimming with green grass and the sky was blue. As I looked out at this scene, I found myself in awe of the beauty of this place that I had called home for four years. I looked out that window and I thought what a privilege it was to have this view. For four years of my life, I had had this view. Not from that same exact spot staring out that same exact window, of course. But I saw it every day. Early in the morning, I walked to classes on those sidewalks carved so effortlessly into the architecture of the mall. I trudged back from the library at 1 am closing time on those same sidewalks–exhausted, tired, craving sleep. I sat out on that green, green grass–or, in the spring time, grass still dead from six, seven months under snow–working on homework, spending time with friends (that one time drinking vodka disguised in a water bottle, progressively getting drunker as the sun beat down on us). I lived and breathed in that space. My whole being was a part of it.

It was my home for four years. And what a privilege to have called it home.

— — — —

Some places are just magical, you know? My alma mater will always be one of those places for me. This place shaped me. Many of my most critical moments of learning and growth happened not just on this campus, but because of this campus.

When I woke up today on that couch in my friend’s apartment…when I got up to look out that window…I was so very aware of that.

I was so very aware of how so very privileged I was to have had that view; to have occupied that space; and to be have been incredibly influenced by it. To still be incredibly influenced by it…even now, as an alum.

And I knew without a doubt that wherever I go in this world–Thailand, and then who knows where–this small liberal arts school on the prairie, this place that I can now call my alma mater…it will always be with me.

It’s the magic of it all.

It’s a part of me now.

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The End (Or, the Beginning of the Rest of My Life)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. — A.A. Milne

Have you ever asked yourself why you love something?

One of my friends asked me this the other day and I didn’t really know how to answer.

“Er…it’s really complicated, how do I even begin to explain?”

But really?

As I prepare to graduate today, I can’t help but ask myself all the reasons I love Morris. It’s a common string of words for me to say these days. I’ve said it plenty of times here on the blog. “I love this place so much. I’m going to miss it.”

But why? Why do I love this place so much? What is that it I’m going to miss?

Sure, it’s a beautiful place. As a prospective student, I fell in love with this campus Continue reading “The End (Or, the Beginning of the Rest of My Life)”