Pre-departure: Existential Constipation
Now that I’ve got your attention – My name is Darrah, and I’m severely backed up. Emotionally, that is. In less than 48 hours I am preparing to up-end my life, move to rural Eastern Thailand, and try my hand at teaching (math and English) for the first time. Almost every factor of my sojourn is a looming question mark. What my day-to-day schedule, attempted cultural assimilation, and social interactions will look like is all but conjecture. Yet still, when I wake up in the morning, and my thoughts inevitably flit towards my impending departure, I’m not pondering these gaping informational holes and existential musings. Instead, I find myself wondering: what if I miss season two of stranger things? What if I buy too many tchotchkes and my suitcase overflows? Will I find a brand of shampoo I like? Though it’s apparent I’m already getting at the hard-hitting stuff with this internal interrogation, it’s not characteristic of me to be intimidated by the unfamiliar. I’m trying to be kind with myself, patient, so I’ve been attempting to cure this expressive constipation with some emotional cataloging. I’ve been hesitant to express the extent of my nerves because I’ve tried so hard to make “fearless adventurer” part of my brand. By avoiding the larger questions and anxieties at play, however, I’m not showing courage, I’m losing touch with the opportunities ahead. I’m beginning to realize that though loved ones have always commended me for my comfort in the unknown, perhaps it was never comfort at all. Perhaps they were seeing an obsession with making the unknown, known. And with that – the proverbial blockage had been cleared and the impending emotional shit storm had been warded off! (Am I allowed to say shit in an official CIEE blog post?) I’ve since been able to harness my nerves as a motivator to do my research, thoroughly pack and prepare, and revel in the feeling of standing at the edge a brand new void - an opportunity that few of the untethered among us ever have a chance to experience.
Since I’ve lost my entire readership with a y chromosome thanks to that emotional cataloging stunt, I’m going to go ahead finish this first post with a quote that’s really been resonating with me. “In the struggle between yourself and the world, choose the world”, now I won’t try and interpret what Kafka meant here because it is undoubtedly far beyond the reaches of my pea brain. For me, the comfort in this quote lies in the reminder that pushing one’s comfort zone doesn’t have to put you at odds with the world, and in many ways, it might just bring you a whole lot closer to it. So to those at similar life junctures: don’t be afraid to look out into the void. Don’t shy away from the unknown; rather, seek to know it. It is terrifying, exhilarating, and in all likelihood, about to lead to some insane adventures and irreplaceable memories. Whether you’re a traveler, starting a new job, trying to meet new people, or are just a 22 year old that still has to make poop jokes to feel comfortable discussing feelings – don’t fear, fear!