November 18, 2013

Day 40 – a breath of fresh air

Change is good, or so they say. Embrace it, accept it, make the most it, so we try and do just that.  We all need change and often it does us the world of good, whether it’s moving house or getting a new job.  Of course not all change is good and we don’t always want things to change. I struggle with change, I understand that change is good and I love trying something new but it’s the bit after that.  Trouble is once things change for the better and you get comfortable, you don’t then want to walk away from it or leave it behind.

I knew I was ready for a change before coming here.  Whilst, initially I thought I could/would stay longer, my gut feeling was to go.  Once I got here, it took me a while to adjust but I got used to things and got a routine.  I accepted most things, have to admit, still not used to the cockroaches!  I love the projects I work at and really enjoy teaching the children.

They say all good things must come to an end – I don’t agree but so many good things do end.  I leave in a week and whilst of course I knew I would leave eventually, part of me isn’t ready and doesn’t want to leave. I feel that I’ve finally managed to build a rapport and trust and now I’m leaving.  I’ve even managed to cross the roads without getting run over!

Some of the children at the shelter asked me today when I was leaving and once I told them, the look on their face changed.   I could see it in their eyes, ah I feel like I’m letting them down and ok so it may sound crazy but I feel like I’m disappointing them.  They perhaps have so many volunteers come and go; they finally get used to one and then they leave and so you have to start all over again.

I guess the key would be not to get too attached or to mentally prepare oneself.  Now, if I knew how to do this, I would, if I knew how not to get too attached, I wouldn’t.  For me, I also have this feeling that I’m leaving them behind and it’s hard.  Of course, I have a lot of great memories/stories from volunteering at each of the projects but saying goodbye and knowing that I most probably won’t see them again – is what I need to accept and get my head round.

Why does it matter what they think? What does it matter what anyone thinks of you? I would love to sit and here and say that I don’t care what people think of me but I do. I don’t always but there are days when I do care.  Now, I know that we shouldn’t care and I would love to get to a point where I don’t care.  If I think about it, I care because I don’t want someone to think I’m a bad/mean person.  But then, people who know me would know that I’m not.  People who don’t know me may get the wrong impression or we may have a mis-understanding but then we could clear this up.

I guess the real question is – why does it matter?  Why does it matter if someone thinks you’re rude, irresponsible, or selfish when you’re really not?  Our self-image or more how others perceive us is important.  Even though we know that we are a good person, we’ve done nothing wrong; we are made to think/feel otherwise.  And yes, in principle we control how we feel, in practice it doesn’t always work out.

If we could accept that we can’t/won’t please everyone it would also be easier.  I don’t tend to please everyone, it’s virtually impossible.  I just need to accept that not everyone will be happy with decisions/choices I make and that’s ok.  I’ve had people tell me, I know better or really have a think about this decision and to be honest whilst, yes it is good to be organised and responsible; it’s sometimes better to be wild and free.  I also question some of the advice given to me, not because I know better, but because I have a gut feeling.

I question most things – the good, the bad and the in-between.  I know, growing up, my parents struggled with all the questions but my main argument, without realising it at the time, was I don’t want to be a sheep.  I don’t just want to follow these norms or customs for the sake of following them.  It’s of course easier, acceptable to follow tradition/culture/values and I’m not sat here thinking that this is bad thing.  All I’m saying is we should make be able to make a choice, if you choose to follow something great but if not then that should also be acceptable.

Most of us, including me, are afraid of rocking the boat, afraid that we will upset someone or something if we don’t accept the status quo.  Truth is life would be so boring, monotonous and mundane if we were all just sheep.  I’ve had some friends say I’m brave for coming here or courageous and that they would never do the same.  I don’t see me coming here as brave; I see it as a big step in the right direction and it was possible because the time was right.  I unconsciously decided that I didn’t/couldn’t be a sheep and yes of course it’s hard but its even harder to just follow norms that I don’t agree with or believe are right for me.

It took me a long time to get to where I am and I know that there is still much more yet to come.  I was helped, inspired, motivated, and led along the way by so many different people. People who walked into my life when I least expected it but when I needed it.  I believe we attract certain kinds of people, those that make us laugh, support us, inspire us that are there for us or simply guide us for a period in our life.  I also believe these people very often depend on what kind of energy we give out.  We all have days when we think the universe is conspiring against us and we question why we bothered to wake up.  But then we also have days when life couldn’t be any better.

Since last year August, I’ve tried to be more, do more and give more.  Now, I’m not perfect and I haven’t managed this consistently over the last year but I’m working on it.  I invest as much as me as possible in any given moment so I don’t walk away thinking I wish I had done this/said this.  I know, for instance, that I gave these volunteering programmes everything I had to offer. And yes, I got so much out of it, learnt a fair amount and laughed a lot all of which I’m grateful for.  I guess the truth is, we don’t necessarily lose anything from giving everything we have to offer, sharing our knowledge/experience/humour but we don’t always realise this.