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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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”

To Live in the Present

Last Monday, while walking to my first day at a new job, a guy running on the street stopped to tell me I looked lovely. What a way to start off the week and the first day of a new job. Additionally, I had been feeling unusually anxious that morning, so the comment brightened my mood considerably.

That said, it was a bit of a strange occurrence for me. Generally speaking, talking to strangers in passing isn’t the most common thing in our society. That, and the fact that we live in a twenty-first century world where our eyes are glued to our phones most of the time; we make ourselves inaccessible to each other with our technology. So yes, this was a bit of a strange occurrence for me–but I realized I liked it. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people spontaneously complimented strangers throughout the day?

I liked this random occurrence so much and I thought it was noteworthy. I proceeded to tell my housemates about it when I got home and, being the millennial I most definitely am, also posted a Snapchat about it. However, I thought nothing much else about the occurrence after the fact. I merely saw it as one more noteworthy-than-average event in a string of random events that happen on a day-to-day basis.

Until Wednesday rolled around.

On Wednesday, I was again walking on the same street on the way to work. I, again, ran across the same guy. My walking to work route appeared to be his morning running route. We saw each other and there was recognition. He waved and then stopped me.

Him: “Didn’t I see you the other day?”

Me: “Yes, I think so.”

Him: “Well, you still look beautiful.”

Me: *blushes* “Well, thank you.” Continue reading “To Live in the Present”