If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, apart from a ton of Spanish, it would be that life is very hard to plan.
I left New Zealand over 3 months ago knowing that I was going to Argentina, I would have 2 placements and I would be back sometime at the end of the year. Yet here I find myself almost 4 months on with a change of plans.
This was definitely not a decision I took likely, I made absolute certain that I was not just being driven by a fleeting emotion and that I truly believed it to be the right decision for me and that is I am no longer continuing with Lattitude. Let me explain.
Almost a year ago I created this blog. I created it to write about the amazing adventures I´d have, the excitement and to write all about how I was living for each day, without a care in the world and that my heart was happy. And man was I so right to think that, but also so wrong. For one, I´ve posted 9 times in 11 months so we can´t say I´ve been writing about everything hahaha but 2. I´ve realised that it doesn´t take a huge change to have an adventure. Let me try and explain this in the best possible way because it´s difficult to walk this fine line about explaining the truth of an experience without sugar coating it and without making it sound awful, when as just about everything else in life it is neither black nor white, and it´s not gray either…it´s just a bit of both.
I’ve tried to write this post many times and each time I’ve been in a different frame of mind which I found really shaped the words I was writing a little too much. However now I’ve had a good amount of time to think about everything. The good, the bad and ultimately why I’ve decided not to do a second placement.
To put it the simple way I guess the placement wasn’t quite what I was expecting. More often than not there is honestly no real need for me to be in class. In a small school, some classes with only 7 students in a class the help of one teacher is more than enough. As the days dragged by and each one was the same it just became more and more unbearable because I didn’t come halfway across the world, spend thousands of dollars simply to sit in a class all day. Essentially it feels as if I’m a student again but without learning anything!
These days in class with nothing to occupy your mind really lets it wander.
I would think of home, of the fun times with my friends and family. Of what I could be doing instead of sitting, bored. Boredom, exactly what I came here to avoid. This gateway of negative thoughts had cracked open and the flood came rushing through. Along with about 2 months of being sick, and little to occupy my mind it was whirling with thoughts and most of all I was homesick. Maybe 4 days out of 7 I would have this weight in my stomach and on my shoulders as a number whirled around my head. 9. I was going to be here for 9 months, 9 months in which the majority of my time would be spent in a classroom doing nothing. I played with the idea of only doing one placement but it was never really serious until one day when I woke up feeling physically sick. I didn´t want to eat and I just wanted to cry and let it all out. Here is something I wrote that day because putting my thoughts into words always helps me process it, i didn´t intend on making it into a blog post but this just gives you a little insight into where my head was at during the worst point
At what point do you call it quits?
I knew the reality when I signed up for this, well at least I thought I did. I knew homesickness would be factor, that maybe for the first month some nights I might cry myself to sleep but then it would be out of my system and the next 8 months would be fine, I would have found a new home here.
And I have found another home here. I absolutely love it, I guess it is what I expected it to be in that sense but what I didn’t expect what how hard it would be.
Sometimes I feel like I’m homesick more than I’m not. It´s not crying myself to sleep every night but it’s a silent longing in my chest and stomach for home. For my family- those drives home from work with Dad after sport training, meals full of fresh veges while me and my brothers queue up and make sure we are dividing it equally. Runs on the gravel road with mum and those fricken trips to riccarton mall that I disliked, I long for it now.
I long to sit with my friends, watching some stupid movie and the conversation flowing. Those old jokes being brought up and again and again. I want to explore the mountains and swim in the sea. I want to wait for the ferry in the cold, knowing that in under an hour I’ll be back home.
I get stuck in to life here and I forget about all of it, but my brain is distracted and as soon as I’m tired and the conversations switch to Spanish, well that feeling comes back. I’m having a good time here but I had good times at home too.
I’ve never been one who is sad, I guess. I’ll feel that emotion but soon enough I’ll be bubbly and happy and if you saw me now I guess you’d think the same. I laugh because I am happy! I gaze around in wonder and revel in the fact that I can communicate in Spanish. I have an amazing family here that makes me feel so welcome, and I could almost convince myself that they are, but they’re not my real family. Honestly more often than not I have a little tear in my heart. I guess my default emotion of contentedness isn’t quite there, in New Zealand I longed for adventure but I just needed to open my eyes and see what was right infront of me. Now I’m living the adventure but the familiar is what I crave.
So this brings me to the question, at what point do I call it quits?
Because to tell you the truth I’m scared. Not of being so far from home any more but scared that this feeling of not quite contentedness will manifest itself into something more. Can I really afford to let my mental health suffer under the pretence of being brave and sticking it out. Is it more brave to except that I gave it a really good crack, more than that, I actually fricking did it? I can have conversations now in Spanish. I’m more independent. I’ve made pretty huge decisions and here is another one. However I’m scared that as this is a mental thing what if I go home and nothing is how my homesick mind made it out to be. I go home and I’m lonely cause none of my friends are there. I realise that those rides home with Dad after sport aren’t a thing because I’m not playing those sports any more. That Christchurch is actually very boring and I become homesick for Argentina.
However I know nothing changes about seeing my family and friends again.
So will the most important decision I make be, to be brave? Not the conventional brave of stick it out, harden up, but admit that health is what is more important, that happiness and not just being happy but truly content is what I need. And that I know with all my heart that being home is where I’ll find it.
I’m 18, I have more time to explore.
I’m 18 and I don’t think I realised how young I was.
I’m 18 and all I need right now is my home.
Do I admit that I quit?
However this story isn´t one of the homesickness getting the better of me and returning back to the familiar simply because the challenge is too great, not that there is anything wrong with that either, rather it´s about making the decision to live the life I want to live. Essentially it wasn´t these negative thoughts that shaped my decision. It was that the situation I was in allowed me to have these thoughts, and that wasn´t ideal.
What sent me half way across the world, to this country, away from everything I know was the thirst for adventure, for a challenge and because I´m a firm believer in living life to the fullest. Yet here I was. Stuck in a class, feeling useless and unhappy. I realised that failing myself wouldn´t be not completing the 9 months, it would be coming home and saying, ´well, that was a waste of 9 months!´.
I´m not at all saying I´ve wasted my time so far, far from it, rather I´ve had that experience and now, whether it wasn´t what I was expecting, whether I was misled, or whether I simply grew out of it, I know that I need to do something else.
Far out, they say you learn stuff from these experiences and I always thought ´mate, I´m not writing a goals sheet of my personal development objectives´ *looking at you lattitude hahaha* but it´s been truly eye opening because I guess I realise that when you are facing a difficult situation, facing it head on and busting through may not always be the best option. I think that was a hard thing for me to realise. As you can see from what I wrote earlier I kept saying ´calling it quits´, and I´ve always had that mentality that I need to be tough and grit it out and if I don´t I´m essentially failing. However choosing a different path is not giving up. It´s simply choosing the best option for you.
So what´s next?
Don´t ask me because, as I´ve just spent the last 1693 words explaining, life is hard to plan. However, I do know that I´ll spend some time in Lobos and after my goodbyes that I know will be so hard, because I´ve met so many great people, made amazing friends and in general really love this place, I will then head to Mendoza and from there spend a couple months travelling around Argentina and Chile which I am very excited about. I do have some travel plans, there is a difference between being flexible and screwed because you have nothing booked.
All I can say is I am so much happier than I was a month ago. I´m feeling so much better physically and mentally and have begun to truly enjoy my time here because the time feels so much more precious.
And I guess I´ll be seeing New Zealand again sometime in September, if all goes to plan (hehehe)