It finally happened. It finally got to me. Being here. Being away. The new and foreign surrounding, if not engulfing, me. I was in a funk. After two months, the new, exciting adventure had metamorphosed into a consistent flashy reminder that this was not home, that I was not home. More than anything, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like I was walking around in a haze that blurred my understanding of the body I was occupying and the person that existed within it. I felt like my surroundings were changing me. I was unsure of myself, in what had seemed a confident resolve to be radical and bold enough to be my true self. My environment felt like the firm push of pressure on my spirit. It’s easy to be who you want to become when your environment is a constant uplifting reminder of your hoped for destination. But when no such reminder exists, in an environment that’s not really antagonistic but still contrasts, how do you remain consistent on your journey? How do you remain your constant self in a new environment, in a new context? But I think that’s where I found the problem: trying to remain static.

Life brings change. Hell, life is change in all aspects, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I couldn’t have gotten here being the person I was five years ago, nor can I get to where I want to be in five years completely being the person I am now. It’s not that I have to change the core of me, but I think I need to be refined in some ways to handle the obstacles I’m sure to encounter further down the road. I think I forgot that although my role has shifted in the classroom, I am still a student, that I can still learn and still need to learn, and that this experience should to be one of learning and growth. So I’ve taken some honest looks at myself. I’ve gauged the person I am after my college years, acknowledged that growth and wisdom I’ve attain through those years, and have become aware that it should be built upon.

Growth is a frustrating process by itself. Coupled with the frustration of being in another country, being away from loved ones, people who know you from the inside out, being away from unspoken cultural understanding, to be in an uncomfortable and at times alienating terrain, it gets to you some days. Or at least it did to me. Although I’ve travelled and I understand the up-down joys, bumps, and bruises that accompany travelling, the feelings that come with exposure to a new environment and culture flush in as if new. While it could be that I’ve never been away for this long, I’ve come to learn that some lessons, you have to learn more than once.

During this funk, it was hard to express exactly the what and the why to the feelings that I was experiencing. But as I met with and talked to my friends here, the explanation began to unravel and show its center. Most of the people I spoke with had the same knots in their spirits. Most of it stemmed from cultural differences and cultural insensitivity and the task of having to explain, defend, and make understanding out of the cultural roots of themselves while facing those barriers. And sometimes, personally speaking, I wish I could just fly home where I could have someone see it, know it, and feel it. It takes a lot of effort to try to dissemble these stubborn barriers, and it’s draining most of the time. But it’s part of the job description and part of the reason that we were chosen. To have these difficult conversations with the greater communities in which we live and with ourselves, not necessarily to change minds, but to give it all a human face and dynamic perspective. I’m a cultural ambassador, inside the classroom from Monday to Thursday and, as I have learned, outside of it, when I’d rather relax and rather not.

I got back to clarity by meditating and fasting for a day. While before the end of 10 months seemed to exist on the other side of possibility, I’ve found that it will really fly by. It will December next week for crying out loud! And then 2011! And although I’m getting back the anxious feeling of needing to get things done yesterday and get more involved, I’m being patient in knowing that everything has its season, in todo se va y todo se pasa, and in the great advice a friend’s mom gave her: maybe this year is just about knowing yourself and knowing how to take care of yourself. As much as I would like to have all the seeds I’ve planted come to fruition, I’ll take time to learn in the quiet moments of in the meantime and confidently keep moving forward.

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