After I completed my undergraduate degree, my only desire was to leave Canada and have an overseas adventure! I did not care where I went or what I did; I simply needed to make a drastic shift in my pattern—I needed an experience.
Not long after I posted my resume online, I received an offer from a recruiter. The offer was a 6 month teaching contract in South Korea. Departure date: Approximately 4 weeks from the day I received the offer. I called my dad into my bedroom and together we read through the contract. Of course, my dad posed the logistical questions while I sat in wonder – daydreaming about my possible future experience. My primary concern was adventure; as such, contractual factors such as salary, benefits and vacation pay were of little interest to me. All of my energy was focused on the unknown, magical experiences that awaited me in this foreign land! Accepting the contract meant accepting more than just a job. It meant I was accepting a whole new reality. It meant I would have to be open to transforming who I was and what I knew. “Letting go” as they say.
As the summer neared its end and September 1st drew closer, I grew both eager and terrified! I watched my friends move into their own apartments, begin jobs in their field of choice and build personalized homes within the safe context of what they knew. I, however, stood at the edge of a diving board excited to jump, but wrought with fear about how the water was going to feel upon entry. In this case, there was no opportunity to dip my toes in the water and then decide if I wanted to jump. One had to simply plug their nose, take the leap, and pray they would reach surface.
Looking back, I can see how the dots connected and aligned. To be honest, I don’t think what I was did was THAT extravagant. This could be because I’ve matured, grown and encountered many other experiences since. I do believe despite my initial fear, I thrived not just survived the experience because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, to open myself up, to cry when I was frustrated, to feel the aches of new beginnings and to acknowledge the process of recalibrating. I smiled throughout the journey and bathed in the joy of what I was doing (teaching) because in those moments I truly felt whole.
I will admit it was not always easy. I was living in a non-foreigner region and struggled with day-to-day cultural blocks and language barriers. As well, I almost went blind from a serious eye infection, was dealing with the passing of my best friend’s dad and was literally across the world from the person I loved deeply at the time. But the students, and my service to them, were the thing that brought me joy, love and comfort every single day! The more I drilled my energy into my work, making sure I made their learning experience fun and exciting, the more I enjoyed myself.
Fast forward four years to today. From the moment I started to unpack my life in Toronto, I knew that I wasn’t going to stay. I’ve had the itch to live overseas again for some time, but felt there was a reason that I had to come to Toronto. Like Korea, I knew it was going to be an “experience” and although it wasn’t overseas, the concepts, tools and mindset I learned/ embraced was completely foreign.
In spending an entire year doing ‘work’ on myself, through leadership courses and mentorship, I am proud to say I got life in a completely new way! I obtained the confidence to play this game in the way that I want to play it. Most importantly, I learned there are no wrong decisions. There are our stories about our decisions and the way we choose to be. That’s it. I’ve never spent so much time pausing to really look at my life and see what is being presented. Then rewind and analyze why I reacted a certain way and asses how I was making myself feel about a particular situation or person and for what reason. I’ve realized that you always have a choice to be happy, and it truly is a choice to be happy and to not judge or complain.
As I prepare to embark on another overseas adventure I feel completely different this time around. That could be because I am not the same person that I was 4 years ago and unlike last time, this time I don’t have any sort of plan beyond the fact I know I am going to India. I am often asked “are you scared?” Well, I am human and yes, like all humans I have moments. It is challenging to stand in your belief structure when it feels like you’re in the midst of what can be called “chaos”. And for me right now, that’s what it looks like. Like a confetti rocket exploded everywhere and although it’s fun to look at, there is crap all over the place and I don’t know where to begin! However, I find myself calm and at peace because I’ve learned to think about tomorrow as just one days decision. “One day at a time” as they say. You can choose something else any day of your journey and that to me makes sense since one doesn’t know how they’re going to feel until tomorrow comes around. This is why I lack planning in everything I do–completely opposite from Laska’s old way of being. Living more present for me means letting go and being open to what is presented each and every day while still having a goal in mind. I’ve come to recognize that true commitment is a process and sometimes a timely one. It presents itself in various forms and often, not in the way we tend to conceive it.
When I was in art school, I labelled myself as a process artist. I always found the journey (as annoying and frustrating as it was) to be much more fulfilling than the end result (ie. the completed painting or drawing). The long nights, the tears, the swearing, the sweat, the disasters, and the growth, all led to something. Of course, never the result I wanted or perceived, but no matter how it looked on the day of the critique, I was always happy, satisfied and proud because knew I had done the work. At first, I used to get frustrated with the way my end result looked. Then I realized the way it looked didn’t really matter to me. This is why I often find it difficult to explain art to people. Sometimes you enter an exhibit and see a box in a room and people wonder “how is this art”? To me, the end result doesn’t encapsulate the entire process and not all artists are effective at communicating their process to the viewer. Of course, this varies according to their intent, but you get the idea.
In any case, it’s always about the journey. The stories are just the lies we tell ourselves about how the experience isn’t what we wanted or expected and instead of being with the moment, we are often more consumed with our stories about the moment. As well, I believe no one really wants to get to the end. For example when I finish a race, everyone immediately talks about training for the next one. The goal isn’t the race. The goal is taking on the lessons and everything that comes with it leading up to the day we ping to be so important. Mean while, every day is equally significant.
There is a quote from a movie which I love and it goes like this:
“Nothing has worked out quite as I expected. Things don’t always, although sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, and has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. Or perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes. Because, everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, then trust me, it’s not the end.”
I get everyone has their own perspectives on life, but know that life is always perfect and everything shows up and comes together when it’s suppose too and NOT necessarily in your perceived timeframe. More often than not, we can’t control the events that occur in life, but we can control our attitudes about them. Just remember nothing in life is permanent or forever and you can always change your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in what isn’t going well and the stress of it (which we create). But instead, we can choose to consume ourselves with what is going well and go back to a place of gratitude. When I do that (listing off what I am grateful for) I find that I am instantly overcome with calm and peace. When we focus on something, it seems to be all that exists. But when we enjoy the moment, it’s like all other issues don’t exist and we are fully present to the momet and all its glory.