At the job I do to support my writing habit, I meet a lot of international students. They arrive on the shores of the Great White North with designer luggage in their hands and dreams in their eyes.
Okay, so they don’t all have designer luggage (but a lot of them do).
Anyway, they arrive with the hopes of mastering the English language and achieving their college-education-in-an-English-speaking-country goals. What they don’t arrive with, is the expectation that the reality may be far from the dream. They don’t expect to be stuck in a house with bedbugs, or to be locked out at midnight, or have 10-12 housemates. But that is the reality they experience. One student, who kept scratching her legs in class told me that she had barely slept because she would wake up with bites on her arms and legs from the bedbugs at the place she was staying. The landlords told her she was too sensetive. Another student, while trying to keep from falling asleep in class, told me that her landlord ran the washing machine every morning. And by every morning she meant 3am. With the laundry room right beside her bedroom, she was barely getting any sleep. Another student was only allowed one load of laundry a week and was bullied by her landlord.
It sucks to be taken advantage of when you are alone in another country. I should know, because it happened to me too while I was living overseas. Living quarters that don’t look like the pictures. Pay that was half of what was in your contract. Expectations that you should work even when you are so tired you can’t stand up straight. If you have lived abroad and not experienced anything like this, count yourself one of the lucky few.
I thought for a long time that this only happened to westerners in the East. But now I think it happens everywhere. I also used to think that most Asians who came to school in the West were on that Crazy-Rich-Asians life. But now I know that this is also not true. There are so many stereotypes we can hold about people without even realizing that we do hold them. Africans in North America must have money. Brazilians all love football. Men always cheat. Pretty people don’t have problems. I thought I was a free thinking person, but I realized recently that there were still some unproven beliefs that I was courting myself. I guess you are never too old to uncover your biases. And you’re also never too old to change them either. Anyone else got some weird assumptions?
…“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
Well, one of them. You see, as a Jamaican it is required that you hold multiple jobs at all times. If you don’t, they snatch your citizenship. No, I am just joking.
Except not really. Multiple jobs really is a thing.
But anyway, back to the story. This morning I quit my job. A job I actually didn’t hate but which was shredding years off my life.
Truth be told, I should have quit months ago. I was wrestling with the truth of it for weeks. But I hate losing an income stream, especially when I am not sure when or how it will be replaced. But there are things more important than money. (Though my student loan balance doesn’t seem to care about that.) Things like health – mental and physical; things like self-development, which I have been putting off for a long time; things like faith. And that last one was the one that really made the difference for me. Because if I say I trust God to take care of me, then I can’t be hesitating when he tells me to do something. I have to trust that once I take the first step, He will create the dry land for me to take the next one. (That’s a reference to a really cool story you can find here by the way).
So I took that faith step. I quit my job. God help me. I’ll let you know how it goes!
This week has been the week of awkward conversations. It seems like every day this week I have had to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone important in my life. Sometimes about things that I needed their opinion on, other times on things that I had done that I needed to make right. On every occasion I spent the hours of the day prior in mental agony about the conversation that had not yet happened. In some cases I would lie awake the night before thinking about what might happen. Continue reading →
Some time ago I went shopping for a dress for a specific occasion. I had been thinking about this purchase for a couple days, and I had in mind exactly the dress I wanted, down to the cut, color and fabric. So you can imagine how frustrated I was after several afternoons of several hours of shopping did not produce the dress I was looking for. Then, when I had almost given up, I found the dress. It was the exact colour and design I wanted, in the exact fabric I imagined. I was over the moon – until I tried it on and it didn’t look at all how I thought it would. I was beyond disappointed.
I spend most of my days with children. Some days I am with children who are functional. Other days I am with children who function differently. Society has lots of labels for this second set, labels that are mostly polite ways for saying they are damaged. We live in a world where broken-ness is not tolerated. Instead it is something to be defined, analysed and fixed. This is fairly easy to do when you wear your damage at a surface level – when the way you walk or talk or behave is clearly different from the way everyone else does. But what about when your malfunction is not on the surface? What about what your broken-ness is so deep inside that no one can see it? Or so deeply woven into who you are that you don’t realize it is broken-ness until you try to untangle the reasons you behave the way you do?