For what feels like the first time since moving to Siem Reap, I’m attempting to sink into it and accept it. Part of the problem is I’ve been telling myself that this move to Cambodia was only a temporary situation, and well, it’s been almost 2 years now.
Sometimes it looks like as soon as I make an effort to like living here, challenges are thrown up like traffic cones and obstacles, but then I realize things are not as bad as they first seemed.
It was kind of strange, that moment, when I was pushing open the doors of work and having the audacious thought, “What if I try to enjoy living here?”
Look, it’s not like I haven’t had really lovely moments: swimming at a fancy hotel, laughing with colleagues and students, savoring a good meal, sightseeing, but Cambodia has been hard for me. There have been extenuating circumstances, for sure. But extenuating circumstances don’t feel like it, they just feel like you are not handling life as well as you should be.
You know, once I figured out Thailand, it was easy, but here hasn’t felt like an extension of Thailand at all. It’s been its own set of tests and trials with the added burden of (what was then) 5 years of living abroad under my money belt, so I felt like, “Damn it, shouldn’t it be getting easier, not harder for me by now?”
The crazy thing is I see the rewards. I’ve been gaining great experience teaching IELTS test prep (it’s one of the tests that students take in order to study abroad or get a better paying job), and I’ve been teaching higher English levels in general. (This is opposed to when I was in Thailand teaching mostly beginner English classes. I like to think of Thailand as the Mississippi of English proficiency out of the ASEAN countries. Now, this could be changing, but I remember hearing ASEAN had to push back its date for English comp standards because Thailand was lagging behind.)
So, it’s nice that I’ve been challenged professionally. And I’m getting paid more here, too.
In about a month, I’ll be returning to Thailand to meet up with my mom. It will be a good chance to decide if I want to return to Thailand in the future. So, that’s been part of the reason I’ve been in my head too much. Should I stay or should I go? The problems of Thailand are still there, but so are my friends. And who knows? I might decide to go someplace completely different.
Of course, nothing needs to be decided today or even tomorrow. And sinking into today might lead to staying her longer than I ever imagined.
You know transitions can take up to 5 years. It’s hard to put a time frame on it.
In the meantime, I need to…
- Practice being mindful. What am I jibber-jabbering about when I’m not paying attention?
- Try new things, new foods to cook, new restaurants, new bike routes, etc.
- Get domestic and nest, nest, nest. Nothing like making your home, the best home possible.
- Read, write, relax, repeat.
- A priority is figuring out how to get better sleep. This has been an ongoing problem made worse by external noise and crazy work schedules. And thinking too much.
(Part 1 is here)
- Taking the time to congratulate myself on little victories. For example, all that minimalism stuff I was raving about before? Yeah, well, I’ve reached this nice point in my life of buying only when I need something. Wanting something is not really an issue for me these days, and it’s nice.
- I’ve been listening to more music. It’s really amazing how much music affects your mood. It’s funny, one of my students picked up on Sugar by Maroon 5 being blasted from another classroom and whined, “Why don’t you play good music like the other teachers instead of classical music?” Somehow her “insult” felt like a huge compliment, and I simply smiled at her.
- Be available. I’m not particularly good at this, especially these days. It’s tough because I waver between wanting to be social and wanting to be alone. I like being alone. But I like being helpful, so I think there is where I might find my balance.
- I spent the part of the night awake regretting getting rid of an old couch. This morning I’m ready to be patient with the extra space and see what we come up with.
- Remembering the nice moments. It seems like I forget this kind of stuff. For example, when I come home from work and share my day with my bf, I talk about the struggles, the traffic, but I totally forgot about this really lovely compliment I received the other day. Another teacher was telling her class that they would be having a substitute teacher because she’d be gone, and the students said, “Can it be teacher Lani? We want teacher Lani!” So sweet.
How do you stay sane?