Over the past several months, I’ve begun venturing into the unknown. I quit my paralegal job of nine years and agreed to teach Honduran seventh, eighth, and ninth graders English and Science for a year. In exchange I’ll get a roof over my head and lunch five days a week. I earned a Teaching English as a Foreign/Second Language certificate. I was inoculated against typhoid and tetanus. I bought a one-way ticket to Honduras, and I leave tomorrow. I have no source of income or idea of what I’ll do once the school year ends.
I am 34. Few, I think, would call me a risk taker, until now. Despite a fine arts degree in playwriting, I’ve mostly played it safe emotionally, chemically, sexually, and experientially. The rent is paid on time, and I’ve avoided getting lost in foreign countries. I re-read and re-read and re-read favorite books and trust in the loyalty of a plate of brownies. So, needless to say, I’ve lived well outside my comfort zone the past several months; I plan to continue doing so.
Sigh, that last sentence reeks of confidence, so let’s get real. While there is something to be said in praise of stability, if its root is fear, then I remain silent. I hate being afraid of failure, of not knowing, of falling on my ass, of external judgment. I hate being too afraid to discover what I love, including how to love myself. I want to change my life because I’m disgusted with the person I am. That person gets overly frustrated with origami, assumes that even her closest friends want to hurt her, and rarely commits, even to an opinion. I know the fence well.
Every now and then, perhaps on the seven year cycle, I realize it’s time to rip off the blankets. So what am I doing? I’m committing to goals that I, not anyone else, have decided are vital. I’m traveling to a country where a minority of the inhabitants speak English. I’m planning to learn as much Spanish as I can, after 20+ years of trying. I’m teaching, which was a dream in my early teens before I decided I couldn’t do it. I’m planning to write here at least once a week. I’m committing to now and not fretting about what will happen once this year is over. I’m doing my best to avoid Thoreau’s “life of quiet desperation.”
If I take too long of a look, I’m afraid about all of it, so I pick one fear: I want to be a good teacher for these kids! This journey toward selfhood is difficult and I’ve whined a lot. But, despite my fears and doubts and whining, something inside of me believes I’m up to this challenge, that even failure will be a success.
P.S. Llamas are not native to Honduras; I just like them.