When I was a baby, I hated pacifiers. My parents say that the moment they put one in my mouth, I’d spit it across the room. My mom claims I could make those pacifiers fly far. Olympic gold medal far (or maybe my head is getting a bit big in considering my supposed infant capabilities). My parents gave up trying with the pacifier eventually. There was no way I was keeping one in my mouth.
I’ve been thinking about infant-Britta’s dislike of pacifiers a lot lately. It’s a useful comparison to the present. Why? Because upon donning a mask in these pandemic days, I usually find myself angrily desiring to tear it off my face and scream out my disgust as I fling it across the room in a way that is only socially acceptable in young children throwing temper tantrums. To put it bluntly, I hate masks. I don’t say that in a playful, “this is a mildly uncomfortable hatred but I’ll take one for the team” kind of way. Nope. This is full blown, anger fueled hatred. I despise masks. I loathe masks. In the days of COVID-19, I want to f-ing burn all the masks. Even the cute homemade ones. #sorrynotsorry cute homemade mask makers. I don’t discriminate in my hatred.
I’ve been trying to grapple with this anger in the past few weeks, because I know enough about psychology to know that anger is usually a mask–no pun intended–for deep pain. I’m not a licensed psychologist, mind you, so please don’t take my armchair psychology as gold. I am, however, a teacher, and I do think that gives me some brownie points in Basic Understanding of the Human Psyche 101.
So yes, I hate masks. And I’m angry about masks. And last weekend, as I donned my required mask before heading into the grocery store, my anger abruptly dissolved into full blown anxiety as I started hyperventilating…
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.
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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?”
According to psychologist Elaine Aaron, an estimated twenty percent of the population is highly sensitive. An actual biological trait (as opposed to a psychological disorder), highly sensitive people are generally more in tune with their environments, process information more deeply, and are more easily overstimulated by loud or busy environments than their non-sensitive counterparts.
Highly Sensititive people can be both introverts (individuals who are more internally focused) and extroverts (individuals who are more externally focused). While 70% of HSP’s are introverts, 30% are extroverted.
Western society is notoriously extroverted, on-the-go, and extremely out-of-sync with the strengths that sensitivity can and do bring to the table (empathy and intution, for example). Sensitivity is more often than not seen as a weakness because it has become so closely associated with vulnerability. So many people are afraid to show their vulnerable side (which, everyone has by the way) out of fear that other people will see them as weak.
As a highly sensitive individual, I am going to call bullshit on that.
Most highly sensitive individuals have gotten a lot of flack in life. Highly sensitive people tend to be more naturally empathetic and compassionate (I once had a coworker ask me in frustration, gosh Britta, why are you so nice?). Highly sensitive people tend to be more aware of and distressed by large groups and loud noises (When I was really young, I used to start crying when a large number of family members surrounded me to sing happy birthday). Highly sensitive people tend to absorb emotions (when you’re sad, I feel your sadness; when you’re angry, I feel your anger–and that unconsciously affects my emotions). Highly sensitive people tend to have extreme reactions to hunger and pain (in college, it was a running joke amongst my close friends and me that I would always be the first person to say, “I’m hungry”). Highly sensitive people tend to avoid conflict and strongly favor empathetic, constructive criticism rather than harsh words (ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s positive delivery that matters). Highly sensitive people’s tendency towards over stimulation can lead to perceptions of laziness or a lack of drive (I find I am very easily emotionally overstimulated, but really busy environments or days where I can’t seem to Continue reading “America in 2017: A Highly Senstive Perspective”
Moving to a different city without any job security waiting for you is scary. I’m so glad I did it. I feel more at peace about where I am than I have in ages. It’s still scary, though.
I went to brunch with a fellow graduate from my alma mater a couple weeks ago-she recently acquired a job in DC and moved here–and we were sharing stories about our experiences abroad. She had recently studied abroad in Europe and I, of course, am a few months back from Thailand. We started talking about places and the feelings we get from those places–how she enjoyed her time abroad, but how the city she was living in during her study abroad experience just didn’t feel right for her. How she didn’t feel inspired or alive in it. I was able to relate so much with her because that’s exactly how I felt about Thailand. That’s why I moved placements at the beginning of November and why I ultimately left Thailand in the end. While my second and final placement felt more right to me, it still wasn’t enough. While I will always love Minnesota because it’s my home, living there didn’t feel right, either. Now that I’m in DC, I just know this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being. I think places are like books–the best books are the ones that you read at a time in life when you resonate with them most. Likewise, the best places are those that you can resonate with most at a given time. Thailand was a fantastic place for me to travel through at this point in my life–but it wasn’t the right place for me to Continue reading “In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt”
It has come to my attention that I will be leaving your borders for the unforeseeable future quite soon. It’s an ending that’s coming quicker than I anticipated and it’s an ending that will fill me with an equal amount of joy–at the prospect of returning home–and sadness–because, well, Thailand, you’ve become a new home. Feelings aside (because we all know how much I love feelings), it’s an occurrence that will inevitably happen sooner than later. Well, Thailand, before the onset of said occurrence, I have some words to get out there regarding my time here.
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Oh Thailand, it’s been such a wild ride. One that I will never forget. One that has shaped me in more ways than I ever possibly imagined. Thailand–you are everything: frustrating, beautiful, frustratingly beautiful. You are exciting, an adventure always waiting to happen, a whirlwind of crazy, wonderful, exacerbating, so much life. You are an endless array of oxymorons and you never get old.
and Thailand…oh Thailand…
I love you.
I love you a lot.
Adjusting to you was far from easy. Sometimes, adjusting to you was downright the worst. Chief among the struggles I encountered during my adjustment period was your food–because although there is so much to love about Thai food, eating it day in and Continue reading “From a Five Month Expat, With Love”
Last March, when I took a road trip to Seattle with two of my best friends from college, we had one simple motto that was our official trip slogan: “Save money, live better.” (I claim no originality for this…we did knowingly borrow said slogan from Walmart)
In many ways, I would say we were successful. We booked a hostel dorm room instead of paying for a more expensive hotel room (and, as a result, met some awesome new friends). Other than a few overly expensive dinners (one of those was an accident due to a misunderstanding between us and our waitress about a nightly special), we kept our food expenditure pretty low. We relied on our feet to walk around the city instead of using up gas. We also took in as many free sites in Seattle as possible–Pike Place Market, the gorgeous waterfront, and the architecturally fabulous Seattle Public Library to name a few.
That said, I left Seattle with an unfinished feeling that I can only now describe–after allowing for time and space and clarity–as lack of satisfaction with my time there. Really, I find myself wondering if we did indeed, live better by saving money the way we did. It’s not that I didn’t have a great time, because I did and I will always cherish the memories with my two college friends there. More so, there was the fundamental feeling that I had missed out on so much of the city because generally speaking, if it cost money, we didn’t do it. In our poor college student minds, this was logical to us. We were still seeing and experiencing a new place, so what Continue reading “Travel Realizatons–The Value of Putting Money into Experiences”
When I first decided to come to Thailand, traveling wasn’t a priority.
I came to Thailand because I’ve always been interested in living abroad for a time and I had recently developed a interest in education.
Sure, I guess I figured I would occasionally go on trips and I had talked with blogger friends who live a reasonable distance from Thailand about potentially visiting them.
That said, I never considered that traveling would ever become a part of my identity.
Than again, there’s so much about Thailand that I never considered would happen–the amazing, life-long friends I’d meet in my TESOL course…how deeply I care about my students and how badly I want them to succeed…how in love I became with this country in such a short amount of time…how I sometimes think about how I’m twenty-two years old and I live and work in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and holy man, this is the amazing, post-college life I have created for myself. No, I never considered any of that. How could I? When I signed myself up to move to Thailand, I knew I’d learn a lot in the process–but didn’t realize how fundamentally it would change me.
As I move on with my life here, as I become more aware of why I’m here and what I hope to accomplish as an expat, I’m realizing more and more that I do identify a a traveler.
To be a traveler requires a whole different mindset. To be a traveler requires less of a concentration on material goods and more on living and breathing and experiencing. To be a traveler requires an understanding that money is necessary to get from place to place–and that a lot less of it is needed than one might think.
Lilly looked up at the vast expanse above her head in wonder. Her wandering five year old mind never stopped taking in the world around her. So many questions, always. At her young age, she didn’t know much about the world—but she was always curious, always hoping to discover more.
“The way the world works is very strange,” her grandfather told her once. She was sitting on his lap, quietly taking in words, in his low, gentle voice. A voice that exuded tired determination. He had been in Vietnam and had seen more of humanity in a matter of years than most people wished to see in a lifetime; he was a Vietnam veteran who wondered every day how he had survived while his buddy, his best friend, was blown to pieces right next to him in the Vietnamese rainforest. Yet, despite that daily question, his aging mind was filled with those nuggets of wisdom he had picked up not just because he had survived, but because he had willed Continue reading “Lilly and Grandfather”