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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Cultivating, Cultivating, Cultivating Positive Energy

Since moving at the beginning of May, I’ve felt my overall happiness level increase rapidly. It’s amazing what a space can do.

The month of April was stressful–after declining a housing offer that didn’t feel right on April 2, I spent the next few weeks touring houses and doing a lot of yoga to keep my anxiety at bay. I almost immediately knew my current house was the one when I toured it a week and a half before my lease ended. It took a few days to hear back from the roommates with verification that they had chosen me to join the house, and a few more days to get in contact with the Property Manager. My housing application for my new house was accepted a mere four days before my lease ended. I hired movers before my application was approved to ensure I’d be all ready to move on May 1, which was a bit anxiety inducing. Even though I was pretty sure my application would be accepted, there was still the small seed of doubt–what if my application falls through and I have an expired lease and these movers and no place to move to! Ah, but it all worked out.

No more dark basement! No more unhealthy resentment towards/avoidance of the person I live with!

Admittedly, I was nervous about talking about my reasons for moving during my housing search. True, it wasn’t all the roommate issue. I also really didn’t like the dark basement and craved a space with natural light. When you’re moving into a space with other people, those people can be pretty wary about hearing “roommate issues” as a reason for moving. Roommate issues in one space could easily transfer to roommate issues in another space. Still, I wanted to be honest during tours. Luckily, most people appreciated the honesty and understood that every situation is unique–different people get along differently.

My new house is just that–a whole house–with tons of natural light. I share the space with three others. The dynamic is very relaxed. We’re all friendly with each other, though we all have our own lives. This is exactly what I wanted–after the experience I had in my last space, the last thing I wanted was a pressure to socialize. Yet, I also didn’t want a situation where I felt I had to avoid my roommates. That gets uncomfortable and Continue reading “Cultivating, Cultivating, Cultivating Positive Energy”

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”

Present Moments: Late Fall 2017

In the western world, it takes guts to live in the moment (a certain level of financial security, too, I would argue, though that conversation is for another time).

We live in a society that is built around the future. A society of five-year plans and 401Ks and the putting away of funds for the arrival of unborn children who are many moons away from conception.

To an extent, I believe that’s all well and good. Taking responsibility for one’s own life does require planning. Yet,  there is such a thing as planning to such an extreme that it becomes debilitating. Anxiety is rooted in unnecessary and unhealthy worrying about the future, and we live in a society where anxiety is running rampant.

Mindfulness is all the rage right now. Some might say it’s a passing fad, and perhaps it is. That said, I do believe in the concept of mindfulness. I’m in a good place right now, and I attribute that to mindfulness. I’ve been working to relentlessly follow my intuition, to do what feels right for me regardless of what others might think of it (if I want to lay on my bed for three hours and do nothing, and I have the time to lay on my bed for three hours and do nothing, I’m going to do it); I do yoga everyday, and I only commit to people and activities if I genuinely want to and/or believe it is in my best interest.

Subbing is going well for me. I’ve had a couple streaks where I haven’t gotten work, which admittedly have been stressful, but for the most part, I’m going into schools every Tuesday through Friday. I’ve been mostly switching off between two different schools, and I’m developing good relationships with staff and students at both. They are conveniently located close enough to my house that I can easily walk to one of them, and I hop on a nearby bus line to get to the other. I occasionally go to other schools, but I’ve been enjoying the consistency of switching off between the two schools I frequent. When I first started subbing, I was really worried that going to different schools everyday would be unnecessarily stressful; while I do love switching things up in theory, I function best in consistent environments. Building relationships with these two schools, then, has been so perfect. I still get to enjoy switching things up regularly, but I’m doing so in two settings that I’ve grown comfortable in. On days that I don’t get subbing, I remind myself that I always have VIPKID to fall back on. I still do VIPKID on Monday mornings, and I tutor a third grader in reading Monday afternoons.  Continue reading “Present Moments: Late Fall 2017”

On Change and Acceptance: Fall 2017

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”

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”

How Do You Know?

For the last few months, I’ve been attending this MeetUp on and off that centers around concepts of mindfulness and meditation. I was drawn to this MeetUp because the concepts of mindfulness and meditation are extremely interesting to me, concepts that I’ve been trying to integrate into my life more as I’ve been actively working through personal and emotional baggage.

The last time I attended this MeetUp, the group leader–a middle aged man who I suppose is between forty and fifty–asked me if I’d be interested in meeting up for some coffee at some point in the future to discuss some aspects of meditation and mindfulness more in depth. He mentioned he found some of the points I brought up in our discussion that night interesting, and would like to talk more.

I didn’t see any harm in meeting up for one coffee chat. These are topics I genuinely enjoy talking about, after all, and this man is a wealth of knowledge regarding the topics of meditation and mindfulness. I thought I could learn a thing or two from. I saw him as a teacher figure, and I was eager to learn more.

That is, until he started sending me conversational text messages, and seemed way too eager to see me again when we parted from our coffee chat (“if you want to meet next weekend, let me know”).

Wait, I thought, is this guy looking for a friendship…or something more? 

This man, whom I only wanted to learn a thing or two from, seemed to have more than a Continue reading “How Do You Know?”

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