We have a couple of meetings throughout the year to check in and see how we are doing with all of the adjustments and transitions we are experiencing. Kevin and I are really the only brand new teachers to the school this year, so it's just us at the meetings. And since we've both been here before and even to the school, our meetings are much shorter and less in depth. It's more just a talk session about whatever we're feeling, etc. We had one of those meetings tonight.
Kim gave us these sixteen traits to look at and rate ourselves on a scale of 1-5. These are the traits that have been determined most important for people moving overseas. :
1. Tolerance for ambiguity
2. Low goal/task orientation
3. Open mindedness
9. Sense of humor
12. Warmth in human relationships
14. Strong sense of self
15. Tolerance for differences
16. Ability to fail
What did we learn? There is a certain type of people who move overseas. People are all different, but there is some part of their personality that makes it possible for them to survive here. "Survive" sounds bleak, and I don't mean it that way. We also had to rate the top 3 that are most important. How could I pick? The experts picked these three as the most important: (1) sense of humor, (2) low goal/task orientation, and (3) ability to fail. Now that last one does sound bleak.
Having a sense of humor is the ultimate weapon against despair. Some of the most frustrating moments do not seem as terrible when you can laugh about them. And I have only gotten through some of those moments because I have been able to laugh.
Not being driven by a goal or a task is also key. That way you are more able to relax and just go with the flow. Life is different, how people do things is different... expectations, values, everything is different! Some of that is visible to any passerby, but so much of that is below the surface and hidden from the outsiders. You learn some of those things the longer you stay. (I have learned so much about medicine and the "theory of disease" here. Never would have known if I didn't spend so much time at the doctor's.) But if you are so focused on some goal you need to reach, you will get stuck in all of that and not accomplish what you set out to do, even missing all the great stuff because you're so focused on that goal, which you will probably not reach anyway. So you have to relax and let it go.
The ability to fail is also key. You have to know that at some point you will fail but also that you will be okay. One obvious example: language learning. I sound like an idiot to a Hungarian as my accent and pronunciation is all wrong, but at least I am trying the little bit I can. A huge success for me was when I ordered something and they answered back in Hungarian. Usually, if they speak English, they would have automatically responded in English because it's obvious I don't speak Hungarian. But one day they didn't respond in English, and I was thrilled. That moment ended there when I didn't know what they said and then they ended up finishing in English, but that first sentence was such a triumph. I was met with failure shortly there after on completing the transaction in Hungarian, but I was okay with that.
I am a very goal-oriented person, and I don't take failure well. I do have a sense of humor, and I feel like I have been able to laugh at things and shake them off. I also know that God has really been working in me and helping me let go of some of those other things. I don't consider myself uptight, but I am so much more relaxed here. I have to be or else I'll lose it. I like to be in control and have my plans laid out, and I don't like it when those things don't work out. If I've learned anything recently, I am not in control (I never have been) and my plans are not really mine. I want God's plans, not my own. So I need to give up my thoughts and ideals, and I can be more relaxed when I do that. I have failed at so much as I adjust to living here, and I'm okay with that. That's how I am learning.
And I am a life-long learner.
P.S. Happy birthday Aimee! Hope you're having fun in Disney. I miss you cheap store! And did you see that lovely picture Stef posted of the 3 of us from a few years ago? Fun times!