Ah! Goodness…I am leaving next week! Next Wednesday! Goodness! A part of me can’t believe it and another part wonders if I am going to end up crying on my mother’s shoulder in the airport.
I would say that most would think of me as a person who is very focused and who understands the importance of being able to overcome challenges in order to maximize one’s potential. I remember when I was planning to go abroad and thinking, “I am READY!” and “I got this!” Of course, at the time, I was drowning under 19 credits of college work and wishing I was anywhere but on campus.
It didn’t factor in at ALL that I would be nervous. Shirley? Nervous? Please! Shirley overcomes nervousness in three seconds! Yet…this time, it was beginning to sink in that I was actually nervous and that just…”加油”ing… through it wasn’t going to cut it this time.
I wouldn’t be seeing my mother and brother for thirteen entire months. I’d be in a place where there are barely any people who look like me. The whole hyperawareness that I would have to learn to deal with again…to a MUCH higher degree this time? That was definitely a shock in Taiwan last summer. Thankfully, I was informed about this before I went. Even so, nothing prepares you for the actual feel of it! And, AND, AND… I was SO nervous about my goal to attain fluency in Chinese! I though things like, “What if I can’t learn it???” and “What if I make NO progress!?” “What if ” this, that, and everything else!
I understand that it is an invaluable skill to be able to prove that you can live in different environments for an extended period of time. It is even better, as my professor told me, to show that you can live in areas that reflect the regional diversity of China. I know that the ability to do so will serve me extremely well in the future. I KNOW that I have to be fluent in Chinese. I KNOW this whole thing is essential to my future. I KNOW I have to stick it out and I DO NOT see myself AT ALL running back home PERIOD…but none of that means this is going to be easy.
I realized that I was actually going to have to sort through I am feeling about this. It was extremely helpful to speak to people who understand my nervousness. I received an excellent perspective…everything should be thought of in terms of curiosity. That is true! People are going to want to take photos with me because they will be excited to see a foreigner. Being black in China is going to be even more significant a sight than seeing any other foreigner. For me, I will have millions of opportunities to practice Chinese because of that fact. See! There are a lot of plus sides to this! :-)
I lost focus, I became so consumed by my nervousness that I forgot… it is going to serve me well that I am such an outgoing and humorous person. Laughter is going to get me through a lot. I am prepared to face the coming challenges! As I always say…”I got this!” These feelings of nervousness taught me that I need to sort through them when the feeling comes…not everything is about charging through. I think it was good that I was honest with myself. I am sure that I am going to have culture shock and it will be a process transitioning to the culture. Even so, I seek to make China my home! Maya Angelou’s quote is appropriate here… in my nervousness, I focused too much on whether or not I would “belong” in China, but I belong there just as I would belong anyplace that I set my sights on. It’s going to be great to get to know people, travel, and see how I grow from such an experience.
A quote comes to mind from Ruchir Sharma’s “Breakout Nations,” a book that I read in my Developing Countries class in college: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” I am sure that firsthand experience will teach me a lot about the reality of China, making my initial concerns amusing. :-)
This is MY time! It will be amazing to see how far I can take this! :-D