|A visual representation of life in Laos. Although this was taken across the river, in Thailand. Same same but different.|
During undergrad and my first master's degree, I worked full time and went to school full time, maintaining a scholarship during the former and volunteering an obscene amount of time during the latter. I also filled in any spare moments with gallivanting, socializing, and, during my master's, I managed to pay off almost $20,000 in debt while making about $35K a year and wringing every bit of fun I could out of Dallas, Texas. I was a freak of productivity nature, without even trying it seemed. I just did it. Yes, I was a spectacular procrastinator, but that's nothing new. It was fairly easy to be breakneck, constantly busy. It was normal to be occupied from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., almost every day. I just killed everything in my path and kept on going.
And then I went back to school for this, my current master's degree, in education.
What happened to me?
I started this program in 2011-2012, with my internship year. I was supposed to finish my master's in 2012-2013, in Albania. That didn't happen. Last year, 2013-2014, I planned on finishing. That... didn't happen. I had my reasons, big shitty life reasons, on top of personal issues and illness, but still. I find myself staring down the barrel of this, my last semester, and I see that it is 20effing15, and I am pretty disappointed in myself that I am STILL doing this.
I start tomorrow on my last semester. I am inordinately terrified that I am not going to finish. I was wrecked with pneumonia for a month last semester and still pulled that off, so I'm not sure why I am so nervous, but it's there.
Actually, I know exactly why I am nervous- I am so tired of going to school, and that exhaustion is insidious, and it is more powerful than what I thought was my all powerful drive to Get Things Done. I want to spend my time reading and writing and belly dancing and weight lifting and seeing friends and finding new music on YouTube and reading cool blogs and news articles and studying Lao and being a prolific pen pal and Skype date. I want to research trips and watch dance videos and apply for weird jobs and read poetry and sprawl on my bed at 3 p.m. for naps sometimes, because Sunday. I am so frustrated with myself for how long I have dragged out this degree. I cannot wait until it is finished. Come June, I'll have two master's degrees, and one of them will actually be worth something! Excellent.
Other than that, I'm feeling a major amount of pressure in other ways related to these last months here in Laos. I've sketched out some ambitious personal and financial goals for myself, on top of the priority of finishing grad school. I know what I want to accomplish, and I know what I need to do, but again, a part of me is worried I won't do it. These last two years in Laos have been something of a surprise, deal with it! detour for me- they were not planned, but it was the path I found myself on and the wheels were set in motion, and the logical course was to continue. I have gained so much from living and working here, but at the same time I have fallen into a kind of easy rhythm. My drive, my unending energy for fulfilling obligations and pursuing goals, has been significantly diminished in the face of endless weekends and lazy days and a general culture that values slow and laid back. It's a singular and isolated world here in this dusty little river village, and it can crawl inside you a bit and tell you to just rest. Just sit under this palm tree with a mango shake and rest. It's hard because it's a developing country, but in terms of external pressures to Do Things... not so much. That's well and good sometimes, but I can feel that it's time to be in a place that puts a bit more pressure on me. I need a push sometimes, and Laos is a sleepy side hug in a hammock. It's been lovely, but there is a limit. I needed to come back for this second year. I need to leave at the end of it.
And so I have about 5 months to accomplish a hell of a lot of things. To do this I need to change basically everything about the way I've been living the past year and a half. I am grateful for the break, for the breather, for the experience of not giving a shit about being so productive and on my game for a bit, but I know that it's time to gear back up, to focus, and to start planning for the next venture. For that I need funds, and organization, and at least something of a plan.
I have to remember all the crazy things I have accomplished under intensely difficult circumstances. Compared to many things I have done, my plans for the next 5 months are not that hard. Compared to what I've been doing the past year and a half, they seem pretty daunting. I feel like I've been sedated for my own good, to heal up and rest and recover, and now I'm coming out of it and need to start learning to do things again. This is perhaps the most accurate way to describe it. The rest was necessary, but now I feel out of shape for what I need to do. It's time to get to work.