I’ve heard time and time again that you are the architect of your own life. But, none of the building blocks were fitting. My counselor asked me one day if I wanted to adopt a child. The thought of that made me cringe. Even though a majority of the people I know have children at the center of their lives, that definitely was not for me. I was in the minority yet again. I found myself looking at my friends on Facebook who lived in faraway places. One lived in Singapore, the other in New Zealand. Two of my former writing and editing interns that I mentored career-wise along the way found homes in Paris via Ireland and London. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Seeing their photos gave me a leap of excitement like none other, and if I’m being totally honest, a big twinge of jealousy. However, jealousy can be misplaced sometimes, so I really tried to visually imagine myself living in another country for a long period of time and how I was going to do it responsibly.
My counselor brought up teaching English overseas about two years ago when I had lost my job. Her daughter had done it, and the benefits were tremendous. I already was a well-traveled person, and I loved teaching my interns. I put that thought in the back of my head for a long time and had all but said no to the idea. I couldn’t leave my dog for a year and there was no way I was putting him through the travel, quarantine and regulations. Not every country views pets the way we do—I knew there wasn’t going to be a doggy daycare, vet and groomer on every corner like there is in the United States.
My best friend and her husband were always Maddux’s caretakers when I traveled for extensive periods. They had three dogs, and Maddux could run free in the country. But, asking them to take on a fourth dog for an entire year was too much. I was back to being stuck in my own skin.
And then, one day in mid-2013, one of their precious fur babies crossed the Rainbow Bridge, leaving a void in their household. A couple of months passed, and I started to research the possibilities of actually going abroad to teach English. I talked it through with a couple of close friends, and this time my dad, who had recently lost his job after 35 years, even was on board—as long as I promised to him to avoid the Middle East or South Korea (lucrative places for English teachers, but a frightening thought for him).
People have to constantly evolve and recreate themselves. No one is going to be loyal to you but yourself. You and only you have the power to do what you want to do and make yourself happy. I have to constantly remind myself of all of these things and will most certainly have to continue doing so. My best friend and her husband graciously agreed to take Maddux, and I knew then what I had to do. It wasn’t an idea or something I was kicking around anymore. It was a definitive choice. Now, where would I begin to get certified to teach?