Let me just blurt out what’s on my mind: in less than two months I’m going to South Africa to be an assistant teacher in a local high school.
Yay: elephants! travel! new friends! good food! great wine! inspiration for my novel! the experience of a lifetime!
Ehhh: racial tensions that I, as a mixed girl who’s on the whiter side of brown, can’t prepare for; political problems in the country that were not present a year ago when I was applying for the position; inner social anxiety that’s been running rampant; raging imposter syndrome that’s beating my ego to a pulp
So, yeah. Mixed feelings.
I’m absolutely grateful for the opportunity, don’t get me wrong, but even studying abroad in England didn’t prepare me for this mindset. I know it’s revolutionary to say, but England and South Africa are completely different places. Whoa. I know I’m blowing some minds here.
In this blog, my intention is to unpack and share my experiences and emotions. In the blog I wrote while in England, I got about 7 or 8 posts in before I was frozen by kudzu-like ennui.
Now, I begin again. Smell that? It’s a new start.
I really want this blog to be thoughtful and funny and warm and genuine. I’ve been reading some great books by women whose voices are all those things and more: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and, most recently, Seeds of Hope by Jane Goodall. Looking at it like that, I’ve got the library of a 40-year-old Californian divorcee trying to “find herself”. You better watch out, I’ll probably start using words like “soul” and “spiritual experience” and (anti-New Age trigger warning here) “flow of the universe”. I see a therapist. I read self-help books. I meditate and do yoga and spend time in nature. Haven’t gotten into Buddhism yet, but who knows?
And yet, I also like to think that I am real, rather than a stereotype. I like to think that we all are more than the sum of our parts, more than our stereotypes. This is, of course, one of the reasons I selected South Africa. I have serious qualms about this blog, but I also have a deep push to write it and one thing that I’m trying my best to exercise is letting myself follow these small urges. I’m very good at dismissing small actions that I call ridiculous in the moment, but small moments are where life is. And I want to share my small moments, my life, with you.
One last thing–one of my favorite books is My Dream of You by the late Irish author and journalist Nuala O’Faolain and this quote destroys me in the best way possible every time I read it: “The world is wonderful, she said. All its little things. It is wonderful.”
Sit on that for a bit.