So, as I sit here, anticipating my move next week, I find myself in a constant state of reflection. Everything from the profound to the inane- “oh, how sad- this is the last time I will see ____________” to “oh, how sad- this is the last time I will scrub THIS toilet”…..at least until my vacation in December! I also have been reflecting on the words of wisdom, advice, and opinions of my friends, family, and acquaintances. For the most part, I have had the most supportive words of encouragement that have truly meant SO much. On the other end, I have had people worry for me and vocalize exactly what they are worried about. Some people are worried about my marriage, my state of mind, and the most surprising- me getting arrested??! However, one of the most frustrating comments on hearing about my anxiety and fear of making this LIFE ALTERING MOVE is “you have nothing to be afraid of.”
Say WHAT???? Really?
After collecting my thoughts on this one and pushing aside my feeling of “how condescending”…..I thought, do I really have nothing to be afraid of? I have this friend. Well, ok, she is like the most awesome friend ever and I’ve known her over ½ my life. So anyhoo- we will call her C. (side note- unlike me she does NOT like broadcasting her life to anyone-anywhere. That is probably why we get along so well) (Double side note- yes, I can do that- she will appreciate the nickname C) C- being very well traveled, says that I should write a letter to myself to be read at the end of this 2-year adventure. It should be all the things I’m afraid of. Then when I read it in 2 years, I can see that I truly did have nothing to be afraid of. Hm. Well, being true to my “LOOK AT ME” style, I decided to make this a letter a very public letter by putting it riiiiiight here……………………
Dear Future Ali…..or Dear Ali in the year 2014….عزيز علي (just in case I am now fluent in Arabic)
You are a week out of leaving the continent. You are heading to a place actually hotter than Phoenix. You are leaving your husband, family, and friends here. Scared now? DUH. But are you scared in 2014? OR are you sad to be moving back to the U.S.? Here are things I am scared about now:
First off, let’s address the whole, “getting arrested” issue. Really? However, it is the Middle East. Hm, I know not to eat or drink in public during Ramadan. I know not to kiss, hug, hold hands, or even bat my eyelashes with my husband when he visits. I know not to discuss politics or religion…..I don’t even do that here! So aside from racking up a bunch of debt- I think I’m good? (ok, so in case I could get arrested for even joking about that last statement, let’s be clear- the only debt I’m racking up is here in the states….which brings me to my next fear……)
I’m BROKE! Not having any income for a 6 week summer is one thing. But now, I have a 3 MONTH summer. My Bill Me Later and credit card company LOVE me at the moment. I’m hoping that I will start crawling out of debt once the first couple of paychecks hit my bank account and then perhaps I can start *gasp* saving money????
What about the actual job??? I have no idea if and how the students there will be completely different than the students here. I’m sure some things are universal. Right??
Then there’s that whole living alone situation. Let’s face it- I’m 40 years old and live within 3 miles of where I grew up. I have never lived on my own. I break out into hives just having my husband do a practice run on how to set up my Internet once there. Let’s not even mention what to do when the first creepy-crawly shows up in my apartment. I’m not sure calling the husband to fly 14+ hours to fulfill his bug catching marital vow will fall under the term “practical.” (Yes, that was a vow. Mine was to clean the litter box.) Ok-joking aside, this will be the hardest part of this journey. I love my family and friends and am scared to be so far away for what seems like such a long time.
So, I looked up the stages for what a person will go through whilst working abroad:
1. Honeymoon Stage (aka- vacation time!)
2. Culture Shock: (aka- the Rejection Period!)
3. Initial Adjustment Stage (aka- everything I know is wrong)
4. Mental Isolation (aka- watching sad movies in Arabic and not leaving apartment)
5. Acceptance and Integration (aka- this is pretty amazing)
Ok, 5 stages. I can do this. Only, can I do all the stages in one month??????
As for fear, dear future self, remember what you learned in your martial arts training? Courage isn’t about NOT having fear, but doing something in spite of it.
SO THERE. I’ll bet you are doing well in Stage 5. I will look forward to meeting you there. Until now, I will look forward to taking my fear on and knocking it down.
Sincerely, Me…..the one that is patiently waiting to travel out there