I’m a little angry at myself.
I was talking to a friend about my ex-boyfriends. You know, the real gritty gruel ones, the ones you regretted, the ones that made you wonder why you tolerated that shit.
Then I saw on Twitter that Ajarn.com had responded to my post Mistakes New Teachers Make by tweeting:
This all got me thinking, why do we settle? Why do we settle for less than what we expect, and less than best?
Well, in the case of teaching English in Thailand, we aren’t considered a commodity or a novelty anymore. And like many teachers around the world, where the profession isn’t valued, we get shafted. In Thailand, we are told it’s a pleasure to work here and therefore, we can’t command any better working conditions or pay.
At my own lovely language school, I’ve watched our schedule change from 5 days a week to working 6 days a week. Some of us fought it for a bit, but slowly over time, everyone has had to ‘get on board’ or presumably get eaten by the dark sharks of fate.
When we discovered that we were making less money than another branch, there was protesting and we won. So why don’t we do this more often?
I have a couple of theories. One involves things changing at a graduated rate, a schedule that allows our minds to adjust to new ideas/issues. You know, kind of like the frog in hot water analogy. And the other of course, is all about the fear factor. We’re afraid to rock the boat, swim out on our own and simply dive in cold uncharted waters.
With work, we get scared about losing our livelihood. We’ve been programmed to believe we are replaceable and expendable. With relationships, it’s all about wanting to be liked and loved. If you think about it, they are different sides of the same boat. I mean, I know I’m not the only one who has stayed in a job or a relationship longer than I should have.
And I’m writing this mainly to get out those icky feelings of self-repulsiveness cause I keep thinking about those damn men I got involved with. In Thailand, it’s a little bit of that “scarcity” mentality. Many folks believe a woman like me doesn’t have the desirable staying POWER that other men or women have.
First of all, who would have thought? An American Asian teaching English in Thailand? An American Asian in a romantic relationship in Thailand? No, no, no. Girls like me aren’t wanted by men because I’m not fully native. I’m not (*blink, blink*) really Thai. Guys want the Thai girls, the red hot deal.
Thais want an Anglo Saxonite to teach the English language. I’m not Caucasian (despite my last name), I’m not white (mostly yellow and brown), so I’m not a good representation of the FACE FIRST mentality that permeates Asia’s ideal of an English teacher.
I remember when coworkers tried to justify this to me, like you’d want to learn how to cook Thai food from a Thai or Salsa dance from a Latino. Same same. It’s an old school way of thinking that I understand, and I’m grateful to be an example against the norm (along with JP – holla!). Personally, I’d rather learn from the best and looking the part doesn’t necessarily denote anything more. Ahem.
All this to say – I have fears of my own. Fears that hold me back from being fearless. This is why I think I got into those horrible relationships. Now to be fair, one was way more horrible than the other, but the other was very recent and that makes me feel discouraged – like, shouldn’t I have pulled my shit together by now?
I guess not. It seems easier at the moment to prove to others that a woman like me can be the very things that I’m not supposed to be because I’m an American Asian, an ABC (American Born Chinese/or Canadian for those up there) living in Tailandia.
Now you might be wondering, Lani, who told you that you couldn’t find an English teaching job? or find a fan in Thailand? *Smirk* A lot of friends and well-meaning folks. In fact, I left Thailand after 9 months of not finding that EFL job. Sometimes I wonder if I “bought in to it”.
After my ex- and I finally went our separate ways, I kept telling myself not to believe what everyone seemed to be saying, you know, the guys here are simply not interested in girls like you. Which brings me back to feelings of self-loathing for getting into that sometimes happy usually heinous relationship in the first place – it frog boils down to this – scarcity and fear.
I didn’t think I bought into it, but I did. Even if it was just a little bit. It was enough to stick around, to hang around, to believe there is only so much to go around. So that’s why I’m angry at myself. I just hate that feeling: I thought I already learned that lesson! Because let’s face it, there is no cure for ‘I fucked up’, except not to do it again.