What a difference a year can make

Reflecting back this time last year I was depressed, absolutely miserable and fighting many insecurities, internal conflicts and struggling at work. I hated my supervisor and English co-teacher. She was overworking me and still does to this day and even though she was ‘nice’, she could be cruel. My students don’t like her and I’m not quite sure why. When I wanted to go to my elementary school graduation, she refused because she needed me at junior high school to do 3 normal lessons. It was frustrating and useless as I wasn’t even doing anything important in those lessons. My students were teaching me a game and playing the piano with me and she said they could no longer teach me anymore. She said the other students couldn’t play piano during lunchtime, but we already asked and were granted permission from the music teacher. So in my mind at those times, she was a cruel, jealous and horrible woman. She wasn’t nice or even a good teacher in my thoughts.

Likewise, I hated my 2nd grade students and resented my 1st grade students at Junior high school last year. My 1st grade students were so shy they didn’t want to speak English with me. My 2nd grade students were so mean, they laughed at me, one girl ignored me and turned her back to me when I was talking to her. They were rude. In January, one boy said at lunch during one of my lowest points when I was trying to speak to them that he doesn’t speak English. He hates English and no-one understands. I sat there in silence not daring to speak after that, in such a foul and angry mood wondering what the hell I was doing wasting my time on some useless children who didn’t even want my help nor my teaching. Not that anything would help since their English was beyond despair, since their level was so low and they weren’t even motivated to try. After I finished eating I immediately stood up abruptly and without saying goodbye walked away. I think I shocked them. I almost gave up that day. I almost gave up a few months later after the earthquake.

One year later. 

I am happy. That same boy who told me he didn’t want to speak English began speaking English with me. He taught me a Japanese game and tried to use English to explain. He was patient and kind. That rude attitude and that distrust, suspicion and dislike melted away though I’m not sure when. He still dislikes English, but now he at least tries and has promised to do his best. He’s in 3rd year and has now graduated. I was so sad to see him and the fellow 3rd years go. I fell in love with my students (platonic off course).

I almost gave up on them, but somehow I kept eating lunch with them and I kept speaking English to them. They didn’t like it off course but eventually they opened up, eventually we started to joke and laugh. Those mean 3rd graders became kind and friendly. I don’t know why. The girl who rudely ignored me while I tried to speak to her when she turned her back to me, I was so shocked. six months later she began to thaw. She wouldn’t cover or hide her work anymore, she let me look and check. She didn’t ignore me but would say hi. When I spoke to her, she would try to speak English. She had such a strange personality transplant I wondered what happened. In all these incidents I have no idea why they changed. Maybe they got used to me. It’s hard to replace your predecessor who was so loved by them. It’s hard to fill big shoes, but I managed to change my attitude and they changed theirs. And somehow we improved and they became my favourite classes.They were still naughty sometimes, but more cheeky than bad. They certainly improved a little bit – mainly their speaking and conversational skills.

I don’t hate my teacher anymore. I just accept her, though she still pisses me off from time to time, I no longer care. She is not significant. She is just part of the job and will be leaving in two days.

During graduation, my favourite student when giving me a present told me that he was very glad he met me. He truly had fun in my classes and one day he wants to speak English with me as an adult. Earlier when I met his mother, she told me that he always spoke about me and how kind I was, how he enjoys my classes and wants to do well in English. Truly he was the kind one. He also was enthusiastic about my ideas and games, getting other students involved. He always spoke to me and asked my questions, not letting the conversation die. He always tried even though his level was very low. He always did his best speaking. I was very proud. I managed to inspire one kid out of 44. Only one, but it makes a world of difference to me because I was extremely happy to know I had succeeded with one. He wants to go to America one day. It’s not England but it is abroad at least. It’s not just about Japan. I changed that view.

My 1st years who were very shy have also improved and opened up. They are still quite shy but they are very kind and always have been. They try to speak English and even when I ask questions in Japanese, they reply in English.

I can’t believe the transformations. I have met some wonderful and lovely children. I am so very happy now. I am also sad because my students are leaving and graduating. I am sad because soon I will be leaving and the harsh truth has hit me. I’ll never see them again. But I’ll always love them. I am so so glad I stayed. I am so glad I stuck it out and never gave up because in the end, the benefits reaped were far greater than the losses I’ve experienced here. I am stronger emotionally, internally and as a person. I am more confident.

What a world of difference a year makes. I don’t know what changed and why. I only know that I am now happy.

 

Advertisements

New adventures await

I have discovered some amazing news. I applied to become a Teaching Assistant abroad in Japan and I found out recently that I have been accepted and I am due to leave in August. To be honest I couldn’t believe it, such incredible news, I couldn’t believe I was actually going, that it had happened. It slowly sank in and when I started to break the news to friends, I was dismayed to learn that not all was as it seemed. My best friend was extremely happy, proud and supportive. But my other friends were shocked, sad and not as happy. This is my dream, to travel the world, to learn a new language and to live in Japan. All I am doing is leaving for a year.

“You are coming back right?” Will I be back? That is the most famous question I receive and honestly I don’t know. I might enjoy it so much I decided I want to stay. I might want to try South Korea. I might decide that there is no longer a place for me here anymore, that I might be best in another country. I get so bored easily I wonder if it would be easy to come back. I can already feel my grip of life and reality slipping as I watch my friends progress up the career ladder, as they turn corners in their life, I realise I’m not quite going down those paths. Instead I am wandering in a completely different direction and I am becoming a traveller who might just get lost. It only hit me that I am sacrificing my career for an uncertain reality, but isn’t life all about taking risks?

Through my excitement to leave, I never imagined it would happen and now it is, I am preparing. I will be okay. It will change me. I will miss my dear friends for sure, I will miss my beautiful family, but I am young and I need to take this chance. If I don’t I will regret it. Some people think I’m crazy for giving up a secure, comfortable and well paid job. Others think I am brave for doing this alone. But all I want to do is discover the world and meet different people. I want to explore and perhaps I am crazy, but who gets to be 23 again? I haven’t a boyfriend, husband, lover or long standing commitment. I only have chance and if I let fear and the comfortable get in my way, I’ll never be happy.

Everything involves a little fear, but I only wish for hope to prevail. I am trying my best to float and I am hoping I won’t drown in this new adventure. I am sure everything will be fine. I should probably stop reading thriller novels and horror stories about Japan. To be fair, they are based in Tokyo and are mostly about hostessing in their’ “red light” district.

Time flies so I know a year will pass me by. I’ve lived in America before and I know if I set my heart on something, I can and I will do it. I don’t like to upset my friends, because I know they are shocked. This isn’t something Miss Goody too shoes, quiet, reserved me would do. I don’t want to leave them, I’m not abandoning them. But I am continually trying to develop and I am trying to be a better person. So if you have a dream, I would pursue it, because you only have one life. Why not make the most of it, instead of living in fear. I don’t know what my future will be like, but I trust it will be okay and I have faith everything will work out in the end.

This is me! Self-discovery alas….

So today I am writing about self-confidence and personal freedom. Last week I did something I wouldn’t usually do- I saw an offer to take up yogapilates and I grabbed it and decided to go for it. What do I have to lose right? So I was meant to go last Thursday but the timetable was changed and instead they gave me a free class of Pilates on Saturday! I wasn’t nervous and I feel like I have turned over a new leaf. No in fact I feel like I have rediscovered myself- the person I used to be- someone who had little fear and would just go for things! It made me realise that I do a lot of things by myself and I am not afraid to do it. I am independent! I don’t need a friend, boyfriend or parent to hold my hand and take me to the class. I noticed a lot of people brought friends, boyfriends or someone they knew with them to the class and I felt proud of myself that I could do things by myself. It also made me think back to all the things I have been doing by myself. It made me reflect about all those times I did things alone- the time when I was in my 2nd year of university and I wanted to join a club so I decided to join the University Club- I knew no one but I was not afraid, I travelled in the night alone (I was crazy travelling late at night in the darkness trying to find this climbing wall!) I am reckless sometimes, but I don’t feel alone! A presence is out there and I believe it to be God! Others may call it something else but this isn’t about belief- this is about taking chances. Anyway like I was saying I met new people but the point is I started it alone.

I decided to work in America for 2.5 months and then travel for another 2 months! I really don’t think things through but I am spontaneous! I don’t plan, well I do but not meticulously! I went to America naive thinking everything will be fine without little preparation and boy did I get the shock of my life! But again I reiterate I did it alone! I was not afraid to travel alone, to meet new people. It was a great experience looking back. I have been concentrating too much on the negative and now looking back I think of the positive. I am not afraid to jump into the deep end and that is something I have been overlooking for some time! I may be slow sometimes, act silly, say stupid things and talk like a baby around family but I am 21! I like to live and learn. I like experiencing new things. I like being a kid around my family and messing about. I don’t want to always be serious. Sometimes I ask stupid questions without thinking, so sue me!?!

I have no one to travel with and I would love to travel but I have always been forced to do things by myself because no one wants to join me! I ask friends if they want to go on holiday and they say yes but nothing ever comes from it. I search and then I realise they are not serious about it! I say I want to join a dance club and they agree but again if it doesn’t meet their schedule or it is just an idea then we can’t do it. I can’t dance very well and my co-ordination but I don’t care I am willing to try which is one of the most important things! Don’t kick me out because I suck- at least I am trying which is more than most people can say! (Not that I have been kicked out! 😉 I’m just saying!) The difference with me is when I have an idea I like to follow through with it! I am not one of those people who sit there dreaming- well actually I am but I also take action too! In my first year I told a friend I want more and I want to be more adventurous and join the climbing club; he laughed. Two years later I met him again and he told me that he did not actually think I would follow through because they were just dreams! But I will if I want something.

Some people may think I lead a lonely life and maybe I kind of do- I have no husband, boyfriend, but I do have friends and they don’t cling to me, nor do I cling to them. I don’t need anyone to do something I want to do and that feels great because I can just do it!!!! I can’t express the feeling but it feels like true freedom! I looked around when I went to this Pilates class and realised I am here by myself and I don’t care. I know no-one but again I don’t care. I am here to exercise and meet new people and have fun. It was a great class! you can really work out a sweat! Anyway the main thing is that if you are alone it doesn’t matter because you can do whatever you want! What’s there to be afraid of? I am re-discovering myself and day by day I feel like I am growing in confidence! This is my chance to shine- I just hope I make the most of all the opportunities that come my way! NO MORE REGRETS! I am strong and I can do anything I want! I am happy in that knowledge because I know I have come so far! 🙂

Change is harder than people think….

“A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.” Tom Bissell- This quote popped up after I published this article and I just had to include it because it was very true for this story of mine. So without further ado here is some of my ugly truth.

So I recently successfully completed a telephone interview and I have an assessment day on Wednesday but I am very scared, but  I don’t really know why. I suppose it is because of the failures of my last interviews and I am afraid of how people perceive me. But the truth is I am trying to find myself and this day is for a job in sales. Everyone says that people should follow their dreams, but this is not my dream and I know in my heart that this job is not the right one for me. I want to run and not take part. I want to ring up and say I am not interested but that is the coward in me who doesn’t want to bother with the effort or the research. I hate presentations and I don’t want to do it so I want to run. But there is always something in me which stops me from quitting- which makes me face the things I hate. Because if I don’t face them I’ll always be scared and run away. If I don’t try I’ll never know. That is the part of me I love and hate at the same time. If I give up now there’s no point because I didn’t even try. Even though I don’t want the job, the experience of the interview is good. But another part of me says what’s the point? I should save myself the humiliation! Well who knows I could meet some very nice people. I could actually learn something. I could stop running from my fears. No I don’t really want this job, but I do want to try and experience things. For me jumping out of a plane or para-sailing is far more exciting, but it is also a lot more dangerous.

That day I answered the call- I didn’t care I just went for it because I knew I had nothing to lose and I didn’t really care. But now, now that I have passed the interview I do care. Or perhaps it is that I care about how I look in front of top business people. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of them. I don’t want to fail. I just want to get this over and done with but at the same time I want to run in the other direction and not face this day.

Recently I have been fearing the future. I don’t know why but it was my graduation last week and I was not looking forward to the stress, seeing people, the fear of tripping over my heels. But on the day during they ceremony I felt blessed. I felt so happy- going up for my certificate I had no time to be scared because I was happy. This was what I worked 3 years for. All my hard work paid off. So why didn’t I want to face the day? Can you imagine what would have happened if I missed it? I would have missed out on such much! On such a momentous and important day for me. Granted there was a lot of people I didn’t want to see and didn’t want to talk to and I didn’t really talk to them because who says you have to? University is over. All that matters is what you achieved and who you are.

After America over the summer I have not been the same. I thought I hadn’t changed which I disliked because I wished to change- I wanted to be more confident but the truth is I had changed. I had become worse, more fearful, more reserved and quiet! I came to hate myself. Such a shame just as I was coming out of my shell after all the good uni had done! Even after these few months I hated me. I wanted to forget. I wanted to forget when people hurt me. I wanted to forget everything. I was ashamed. Why? Because I did not like me. Why did I care so much what people think? I don’t know. When I spoke to someone they said why would you want to change? You’re fine the way you are! Well I think I do need to change some things but I am fine. I’ll take that!

The problem is I let my insecurities rule me and I let fear control me. I hate it and I am trying to change it. I am trying to change me for the better. But it is no easy process. Things happen for a reason. The other day someone asked me what my dream job would be and I thought and in my head I had absolutely no idea! But because I needed an answer I said I would like to have been an author. Truthfully I don’t think I would have! I like writing stories- but for myself and for my friends. Perhaps I would have liked to have been a doctor. No maybe I would have liked to have worked for a charity. I still could- I like helping people so I could work for a charity. Maybe I will try it. It’s not impossible and completely out of my reach unlike medicine where I actually need a medical degree.

Nothing is impossible! I just have to keep telling myself that. I need to change. I need to wake up and be positive. I need to get back to where I began. When I was a baby I had no care in the world and was not affected by any external judgements. So I can’t get back that far. But I can shield myself from criticism. I can choose not to let things affect me. It is hard to change, but I must do it. I must be the change I want to be. But most importantly I must learn to love myself.

At least I know that some people love me, my family, friends and most importantly God. That’s right me and the man upstairs are changing the rules. I will not fail. And if I do that’s ok I’ll just get right back up and start again.

Camp America is not all it lives up to….

I am back from four months of being away and you would think I have learnt a lot and grown up. But I have not. I am still pretty much the same person recalling how I thought I would somehow change over the summer. But then some people are just too stubborn to change and that someone might just be me. It’s not that I don’t like change I don’t mind it unless it is change for the worse in my personality or something.

Anyway I went to work in America for 2.5 months at a camp in upstate New York. They say that not all camps are the same and the experience is different at each one, but I doubt I’ll be doing this again. I came out unfulfilled and not impressed with camp. I thought I would love it and have the most amazing summer of my life, but I just came back sad and extremely tired from all the hours they worked us. We were not really allowed to get ill and clogg up the health centre but that is what happens when you overwork people and treat your staff in such a way. The amount of hours I did would be illegal in the UK and certain things make you appreciate the UK a lot more such as the NHS. Though the infirmary was free, we were dissuaded to go. One day, it was visiting day where the parents come to visit the children they dumped at camp for one month or two months. I worked as an Outdoor Adventure Specialist and had to work in the burning sun (heatwave in the US) for 6 hours straight with 20 minutes for my lunch break. I had to run to get my lunch, scoff it down and rush back so that we could manage the unlimited amount of kids choosing to go on the adventure course. it was a manic day which resulted in us closing 1 hour earlier than planned due to the heat. I convinced the head of Outdoor Adventure that my fellow friend (who also worked on the adventure course with me) was sick but refused to get help. She finally ran to the bathroom to be sick.  While I too ended up with heatstroke as I finally choked on some water and collapsed. It sounds dramatic and in fact it seem dramatic at the time, but it was just fuss made over nothing- I was just too tired.

No one can understand what I experienced- everyone think that camp is amazing because despite the hard work you make friendships for life, you looks after children and discover your life dream. But for the tiny percentage that don’t like camp which includes me- I discovered I hate working with little brats and can’t stand working with children who don’t want to learn but just want to be selfish and do whatever they want.

The social aspect was great meeting new people and adapting and facing new challenges, but we lived in a camp bubble with no privacy, no respect for personal space. I came to camp prepared to give up drinking for 3 months to work with kids, but when I got there I discovered that we were allowed to go to the bar and drink. On our days off, everyone would make out with each other, get stupidly drunk and sleep with people without having a f””””” clue what they were doing. I was told of “goggle eyes”- which is when in the beginning you are not attracted to a person but having to be forced to live with them for 2 months you eventually find them attractive. Well I sure wouldn’t like it if a guy at first thought I was ugly and then after a month found me more attractive because of the limited amount of girls left to hump. Some people are just superficial!

It was not all bad I did have some fun, but I found it insulting that my camp director told us at orientation that we should get to know our fellow staff because who knows it might be the person you’ll end up “making out” with over the summer. I didn’t think a camp could have such crappy and fake values than the ones espoused. The children were spoilt rich children who had no idea what pain and suffering there was in the world. People complained about the food instead of being grateful they were at least being decently fed and had a bed for the night to sleep.

What’s more I underestimated how much I would miss my family and though some people did not. Being away made me realise the importance of looking after my family and treasuring my good friends who actually love me for who I am and who actually want me back. During my travels I discovered that my aunt, my uncle and a family friend had passed away this summer. These events have made me realise that so much can happen in just 4 months and we must not neglect the ones most important to us. We must treasure and make them feel like the most important people in the world so that they don’t have a reason to give up on life. RIP- may you finally be happy and never alone.

Anyway I hated camp and I never want to return. Though I do remember the fond memories of the people I met and of the fun things I did before the children came. I will never forget the bitchiness, the cruel people who would gladly step on others to get to the top. In fact I am pretty sure that is life- the horrible people somehow manage to climb to the top while the soft and quiet get trampled underneath. It’s time to get a voice, but I sure won’t resort to mean ways to get ahead. Its sad because on my travels I met some very nice people who went to different camps and they were very friendly! Much friendlier than those who went to my camp. It’s a shame really but at least it will give me pleasure when the company who helped find my camp ring me up to ask whether I will be going to camp again, I can gladly say a big fat “NO! Never again”. I’m not one for tormenting myself as much as it is all the rage now since Fifty Shades of Grey!