When I was 22, I had a grand plan for my life. How many of us really knew who we were and what we wanted in our early twenties? Here’s the thing, it really is OK not to know, just as much as it is to change your mind when that plan no longer fits the person that you become. Now at 35 and living in Huaraz, Peru, that young woman’s body hasn’t changed much physically, but she’s learned that the magic often lies in trusting the unknown.
There was a lot of anxiety before coming here, and somewhat of an expectation that this journey to South America would help to give me clarity and direction for my life. It’s been almost two months since I set foot on this continent, and I learned quickly to strip away all my grand expectations of whatever this part of my life needs to be.
In Huaraz, I am living, working and have a routine – I am beginning to feel like I can become a part of a community again. Probably because it’s the first place this year where I wasn’t making plans to leave, or a temporary stop before my next destination. What would have felt like the boring stuff back home, actually helps to ground me. Going to the local market to buy fruits and vegetables and meeting the women from the mountains. Want to know the biggest change for me? I’ve found joy in cooking again! I only cook when my mind is clear and you know that saying about food cooked with love? It really does taste better.
Here I am nobody and anybody – no one really knows my story unless I tell them, or I guess if they stumbled across my blogs. Who I am has changed, and I would rather use my energy to figure out who I am now. Though there’s a saying that maybe it’s not about finding out who you are, but peeling off the layers that made you forget in the first place. Keep peeling until one day you wake up and that face looks familiar, but she smiles differently, or her eyes have a knowing that you finally stopped resisting (or expecting things to go wrong) and breathed life into “her” in your sleep.
Some days I catch myself day-dreaming - that feeling is bliss, effortless and time feels like it stands still. Then a familiar voice rings in my ears, telling me I need to be more than what I am right now and to make decisions about my future. So, I stop. I find ways to be still and remind myself that this is enough, devoting time to my health - both physical and mental is what I need. Often in the pursuit of dreams and aspirations we forget that our bodies and minds also have to survive the journey.
There are good and bad days, and today I found myself frustrated in one of my classes (which I’m sure every teacher has experienced before). I started to become emotional and I could feel tears begin to well up, but I stopped them before they did. It was a reminder that no matter how much of myself I gave to my work, not to take their behaviour personally. We all have different motivations for learning and eventually I will find theirs. I have only had this class for three weeks - there is so much I have already learned about how to connect meaningfully with my students that this latest stumbling block should only reassure me that as a teacher (and person), I genuinely care.
Teachers, those who truly want to foster positive learning habits, as well as encourage curious minds to keep learning will give a big part of themselves. Emotionally and physically. It may make us vulnerable, yet we know the pay-off for those whom we can connect with are even greater. The greatest value of your teacher is not just in their current knowledge, but in their ability to see through the defiant attitudes, sass and absences – to find multiple ways to convince you of the potential they believe already exists. I know I have it in me to be a great teacher,
it’s just going to take more time, and that, I have.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently based in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.