“I can’t believe you’re leaving me for a year”
“I don’t think you’re going to like it”
These are a few of the responses that I got when I made the decision to go to China to teach English for a year. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t replayed these words in my head several times over the last 2 months. I’ve tried not to let what I felt were the more negative responses affect me too much, but it’s hard. It got me thinking that maybe it wasn’t a good idea. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, especially those I am closest to. There have been a few times where I have contemplated backing out and just forgetting the whole thing. But, that’s not an option for me. This is something I have to do.
Some people might call it a midlife crisis. Though I do plan on living beyond 60, so maybe it’s a third-life crisis? I don’t know if that’s a thing, but I’m making it a thing. Moving to the other side of the world could be the best or the worst decision of my life. I’m realistic about the struggles I will face. I don’t know the language, the culture is completely different and that’s only the beginning. I know that once I get there, I will experience things I could never prepare myself for. However, all of those fears are outweighed by my excitement for this new experience. I am looking forward to opening my world, meeting new people, learning a new culture, and hopefully leaving an imprint on some kiddos.
So, how did I come up with this idea you ask? Well, it all started with a conversation with a friend of mine. I believe her exact words that set my mind racing were, “I’m content”. It scared the shit out of me. I realized in that moment that I was also content, but I didn’t want to be content. I wanted excitement. I wanted adventure. I even wanted discomfort. My life has been the same thing every day: get up at the same time, go to work for 8 hours, go home, have dinner, go to bed, and repeat. Sure, I tried things to add excitement to my life, but nothing felt like enough or very doable. Even something as simple as hanging out with friends was almost impossible because no one seemed to have enough time.
I decided that I needed to do something drastic. Something that would not only add excitement to my life but also push me outside of my comfort zone and allow me to see the world. Initially, I was just going volunteer somewhere for a couple weeks. Looking into the requirements, it would cost me around $2,000 and I wouldn’t be working for two weeks. Not ideal. Then I found a company that hires people to teach English in China. A job and I would get to see a new part of the world?! I’m in! It felt right and almost serendipitous. I was feeling discouraged and frustrated that I couldn’t find anything that I felt would work out when I came across this opportunity. If you know me, you know that I don’t believe in coincidence. I took it as a sign that this was what I was supposed to do.
It’s admittedly the most selfish thing I’ve ever done. I thought about what my friends and family would think and how it might affect them, but I didn’t let those thoughts make the decision for me like I normally would. I’ve always wanted to do something bigger than myself and something that would allow me to see the world. This is about me knowing that there is more to life than the world I have known for 30 years. I have to see it live and in the flesh. I have to live it. I have to know that I am making a contribution to the world.
I know not everyone understands my decision or they think that I am making a huge mistake. Maybe I am. But what’s the point in living if you stay inside your safe space and don’t give yourself opportunities for life to be messy and hard? That’s how you learn. It’s how you grow. I am not saying that everyone needs to travel halfway around the world for a year in order to grow (though I encourage travel in some aspect). For some, the chance to grow comes in the form of quitting their job or taking up a new hobby or volunteering or starting a family. If you are doing something that makes you uncomfortable and giving yourself an opportunity to be a better person, then you are living life to the fullest.
I plan on updating everyone as much as possible as I can through this blog and other forms of social media. Getting online will be a little tougher so I may not be able to update as frequently as I would like to. If you want my email address, please let me know and I can send it to you.
It’s going to be a fun ride and I can’t wait to take you all on it with me!