Music for today: "Sweet Disposition" by the Temper Trap
I took the bus by myself yesterday.
I spent 45 minutes waiting at the wrong bus stop before I figured it out and walked over to the right one.
I got on the wrong bus coming back, and ended up having to walk fifteen minutes in the rain.
But y'know what?
It was still a good day.
I did something.
One of the hardest things I've discovered about living in a foreign country, especially one where you don't speak the language, is to get out of your comfort zone. For the past month, it's been very comfortable for me to stay in my apartment, watch Doctor Who, Modern Family, Community, or one of the many television shows I enjoy. That is the comfortable thing.
It also would have been comfortable for me to just stay in the United States, find a simple job back in Sioux Falls or somewhere else, and stayed doing that. It also would have been more comfortable for me to just stay in education as a student and go on to a PhD program somewhere.
Instead, I left all that behind. I left. I went somewhere that doesn't even speak my language, to teach students raised in an educational system far different than the one I'm used to, and to live by myself.
I'd be lying if I said I absolutely loved this 100%. I often long for my own car again, a city that I know well, and especially when I'm not feeling well, food that I'm used to. It is so easy to go back to those comfortable things. It is so much easier to stay within our comfort zone.
But I would also stagnate if I did that.
A few months ago, I had a discussion with Mom about moving back to Sioux Falls. In the midst of a job hunt, I told Mom I was looking at jobs in Seattle, San Fransisco, Washington, D.C., and Houston. Originally, I had thought of moving back to Sioux Falls after I did my Master's, because I knew I could easily get a job there, and frankly, I missed it.
But as I got used to living in Waco, to living so far from home, I realized that moving back home would be the entirely wrong move. It would, as Mom and I discussed, kill my soul. It would be a decision focused solely on getting money to pay back student loans, a decision that I knew I would regret. While paying back student loans is important (and something I fully intend to do), making a job decision based on money is not a good idea (I have more to say on the student loan debt crisis in America and why it hurts us, but that's another blog post for another day). Making decisions based on money is not necessarily a good idea.
I was reading today about how you become a writer - essentially advice put out by established writers of whom I am a fan. Basically, "write what you know," doesn't cover everything. It doesn't help if what you know is only the inside of a classroom for the first 24 years of your life. (By the way, I calculated the other day, and I have spent 20 years of my life as a student). You not only should write what you know, but you should KNOW THINGS. You should major in something other than writing. You should travel the world. You should have conversations about religion, education, and the world around you. You should LIVE. If you want to write about life, you need to have a life.
Newly inspired, I take new heart in my decision to move 9,000 miles away from everything I know, to live in a country I had never considered visiting, much less moving to. Who knows? All of this may be fodder for a book some day. Or not.
And if not, this does not make the experience worth any less.
Either way, I am living. I am getting on the wrong bus. I am walking in the rain. I am taking about the sizes of baby kimonos with a lady who only knows a few words in English. I am miming holding a newborn to tell the saleslady about my niece. I am experiencing the humility that comes with not being able to read the labels on the food you're eating. And I am learning how to leave my comfort zone and create new ones.
I expanded my horizons yesterday by taking a bus trip. What have you done to step outside your comfort zone today?