The Uncomfortable Life
I’ve always lived by the quote that goes something like “life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.” This means that I like to keep the perspective that once you’re settled and feel comfortable with where you’re at in life, something ought to change. I’m aware that many people would not agree with this view and would question what kind of person would choose to get rid of the peace that she has right now in her life, namely who would choose discomfort over comfort? I am not underrating the happiness that comes with comfort - I mean, who doesn’t enjoy those lazy Sunday mornings in bed where you can allow the sound of the TV and coffeemaker to consume your world, where you can feel both physically and mentally comfortable with yourself. I am however emphasizing what I find as important when it comes to making life meaningful and interesting - and that involves opening doors that we have always imagined as being forever shut and treating each day as a new opportunity to learn and make mistakes. It’s understanding that you’ll never do anything perfect but at the same time there’s no loss in trying. It’s accepting that you’ll make many mistakes and that you never want to wake up one day thinking “I should have..” or “I wish I had…” because that would just be a waste of time. It’s instead being brave enough to let go of the normal and easy and bracing the challenge and foreign. In this sense I do not imply that latter invokes a negative outlook on life but rather makes the unfamiliar now familiar. But even if the negative comes to fruition and dominates the positive, so be it. At least I will always know I tried.
Now, what does all this abstractness have to do with teaching abroad at 20? It explains exactly why I decided to embark on this experience in the first place and to be honest, I must say that it has been uncomfortable and challenging (and it’s still not over!) and that yes, I could have done something more comfortable and easier with my time off. This past weekend my Spanish family took me climbing up a mountain with four large dogs in the cold snow. Many of you reading this know that I am not a fan of heights nor hiking nor snow but I went anyway, imagining it would be short and that I might actually enjoy it. Unfortunately, I’m not mentioning this to bring you a happy story; on the contrary I hated the hike and felt that with every step I was going to slip and fall to my doom and I wouldn’t even have cell service my last moments. Of course, four plus hours later I made it back and survived another week teaching English.
My Spanish sister, Mónica, kept reminding me (in Spanish, of course) that I needed to trust her and there was no point in being scared of something that you have not tried yet. She told me that I needed to look at this as a new experience and that you can’t live in fear of something foreign to you. Being my stubborn self I responded by saying that I will never do something like this for the rest of my life (a promise I still plan on keeping today, says the Floridian in me). However, Mónica is 100% right. You should never choose to not put yourself out there for the sake of failure and disappointment, no matter where you are in life. Because my time here in Spain is teaching me how to live without expectations (frankly, Spaniards still surprise me everyday) I plan on continuing to incorporate this new fearlessness into every aspect of my life, from relationships to work to the knowledge I take in every day. I guess this is what is characterizing my hiatus, understanding how to change the feeling of being out of place to one of knowing you had the courage to leave your comfort zone and be there.
p.s. for those wondering, I will be returning to the U.S. in exactly 20 days :0