I wanted to write this the other day, so that it would still be within the realms of 2010, but the library was closed for the holidays and my computer was broken. Somehow, however, my computer has miraculously decided to fix itself -- or the pesky virus that's been bothering it is just biding its time, waiting to strike again at an unforeseen point in the future. Either way, I can write a note about what 2010 meant to me. Because, man, it was a year. A really incredible, daunting year, and in a way 2011 feels like it's gonna largely be about reflecting upon and learning from the lessons of 2010.
I started off the year doing my student teaching in North Carolina. It's kind of amazing that that's where the year started, because honestly that feels like ten years ago now. Man, was that a weird time. I was applying for graduate school, preparing for studying abroad in Belize and generally not focused on my classroom like I should have been, although I think I got it together about halfway through and made sure to finish strongly. I learned that I wasn't as disciplined as I thought I was. I wasn't as confident or engaging with students as I thought I would be. I didn't know as much about English as I thought I knew. In short, I didn't measure up to my own expectations. But that was a good thing. It allowed me to humble myself and actually work on my skills as a teacher and as a communicator, and by the end, I passed easily. It was just a really, really difficult 10 weeks, and one that I don't think I'll be wanting to repeat again.
Now, some weeks that I am definitely gonna want to repeat are the five weeks I spent living and working in San Pedro, Belize. That was incredible. I still can't accurately put into words what that experience meant to me. For one, I was able to subconsciously take a lot of the classroom skills I learned while student teaching in North Carolina and apply them to my classroom in San Pedro, which was an absolutely cool and unexpected method of continuing my student teaching experience beyond the 10 weeks I was originally allotted in the United States. But even more than giving me more teaching experience which I desperately needed, Belize was a magical place that helped me deal with a lot of issues. I had never before really interacted with or engaged with another culture. I have a tendency to be shy and nervous, and I'll often hesitate and not boldly step forward into new experiences due to my timidity.
Yeah, that all changed in Belize. As I wrote about in my travel blog from that time, I really did things there that I never thought I would do -- and probably will never do again. Not only did I loosen up around the students and fellow teachers there in ways I never felt capable of doing in North Carolina, but I also made friends with a fantastic group of fellow travelers, all of whom I miss dearly, and was truly social and outgoing for one of the first times in my life, at least by my own estimation. I still sometimes have a painful longing to go back, and hopefully I will be able to one day, or I'll find another place calling out to me, and I'll be even more capable of throwing myself head first into that adventure.
Speaking of adventures, as soon as I got home my dear sister decided to set out on her own, and I got to be there as she married the man of her dreams and he became a member of our family. Then just a few days later, the biggest adventure of my life thus far came to a close as I graduated college, leaving behind so many amazing friends and memories which I know not only will be with me forever, but which set up the foundation of my character and personality in ways that even I'm not fully aware of at this moment. I'm introspective and talkative, though, so the chances are I'll create the links in my head eventually, and then I'll tell you all about it.
And then I took a 30 day road trip across the United States, visiting various friends -- and even a few minor acquaintances -- all for the sake of adventure. I guess I was still stoked from my time in Belize and I needed to take advantage of it. Besides, that graduation money wasn't gonna spend itself. I had the time of my life, and although it was stressful at points and it certainly revealed some incredible flaws about myself, I enjoyed it, and it added about another thousand mental photos to the memory vault (not to mention real photos to Facebook.)
And then there's Baltimore. That's especially difficult to write about, not because of any particular hardship (okay, that's a lie,) but because it's not over yet. It's only just started, really. What I know so far is that I dealt with a lot of homesickness and loneliness for awhile which were heightened by the fact that I was dealing with some emotional issues and the losses of some close friendships as well. It made the last semester sort of a bummer, but I'm trying my best to be positive and look forward into the new year. I have a decent job, a fantastic small group and an awesome church, some great friends who I am totally thankful for, a beautiful family who I'm able to keep in touch with and a great group of fellow classmates and teachers with whom to study. So really, the time for review is officially over. Here's to a new year, and I'm looking forward to everyone of you reading this (whoever you are) being a part of it in some way.