There’s something about living abroad that constantly reminds me that I’m a foreigner. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe it’s constantly being called gringa and extranjera in the street, or maybe it’s that I struggle to speak the language. Either way, this feeling has caused me to be incredibly timid. I’ve felt a fear of being alone and independent here in Guatemala that I’ve never felt anywhere else.
Today, I was on the phone with my mom, and I was telling her about my fear of traveling alone to Mexico at the end of the month. She said, “What has happened to you? You’re a total bad ass in the United States! Why are you letting Guatemala beat you down?” Conversations like these are why it’s important to talk to your mother regularly.
My loss of bravery has dampened my effectiveness as a teacher and impacted my day to day life. It took me a week to muster up to courage to go to the mall by myself. What if I took the wrong bus? What if someone stole my bags? I have NEVER worried about these things anywhere else. I’ve always been an “everything works out” kind of thinker, but I suppose you have to hit the other extreme to find balance, or at least I do.
I have also been sick three times in the past two months. I’m thankful for a support system that has helped me to get to the doctor, buy medicine, and take a day off when I’ve needed it, but with the amount of work I have, I can’t really take a whole day off. The sicknesses are pushing me towards learning how to do things faster and being more diligent in my work.
So, this month, Guatemala taught me caution and diligence, and in the coming month, I hope to regain confidence in myself and my ability. I hope that Guate doesn’t teach the next lesson in such difficult ways.
To end on a high note, my students are amazing and show me so much love. When I have low days, interacting with them brings me up. One of my fifth graders gave me a valentine on the 14th, and it made my whole week.