Some enj-history: I was born on the sunny tropical isle of Barbados, where my family had lived for five or six generations, but when I was almost five my parents decided to make a fresh start in Australia. This was a good move, but it took me a while to realise it. I distinctly remember thinking as a child that South Australian trees were terribly ugly. They were so dry and knarled, nothing like the lush green plants I was used to. My accent also caused me some initial problems, but that soon toned down and the other kids finally realised that I was speaking English. My mother’s family (parents, three sisters and their husbands/kids) migrated a few years after us, and they were the family I knew, the cousins I grew up with.
It is relevent that my mother came from a poor, very much working class, family. My youngest (and favourite) aunt, who arrived in Australia as a teenager, was the only one of her generation to go to college. I was the only one in my generation to do so, but it took a long time for me to get there. This was never discussed as a goal amongst my cousins when we were young, their dreams were defined by working class mentality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they were choosing their dreams badly…almost all of my cousins are happily married and/or settled in jobs they enjoy…it just took me a while to pursue my own dreams, because they were different to everyone else’s, defined by the education I wanted rather than by the education I had, and by places as yet unseen, rather than those I already knew.
Even now, those cousins think that I have done something amazing by graduating college and going to work in Japan. Recently I had the chance to go back to Barbados for the first time since I left it. My father’s family came from all over the world for a family reunion which originated from one cousin’s idea four years ago to get us all in contact through email. They all think it is interesting that I live in Japan…nobody is amazed by it. On this side of my family, everyone goes to college, everyone has travelled, many are far more educated than me. At first it made me feel very ordinary, and then it made me feel normal, like I belong.
All this talk of pursuing dreams makes me sound really motivated, but that took a while to develop, too. As I look back my life seems punctuated with times when I wasn’t doing as much as I could with what I had. I inherited a natural gift for sport from my father and a good brain from both parents. Unfortunately I squandered both for a long time, doing well enough, but never exceling, because I wasn’t studying or training hard enough. When I look back now, I wish I had wanted these things more, but I didn’t. I studied just hard enough to get into college (meaning that when I changed my mind about teaching, which ironically I am now doing, I didn’t have a high enough score to get into the course I wanted). I trained hard enough to contribute to my high school teams winning premierships, but I never considered realistically that with more effort I could be playing state or national.
My father was a little disappointed by this I think…he has made a national team in every sport he ever played competitively (table tennis, cricket, stick fighting, darts), and is now an international level coach. This level of play is another thing that is normal in his family…but on the whole he and my mother have always accepted that I have the right to my own set of goals and dreams.
In my late 20s, I started changing the pattern I had previously set. When I decided to quit work after several years to go back to university, I knew I didn’t want to ‘just get by’ anymore. It was a difficult learning curve. I had a whole new set of study habits to adopt. But I graduated with first class honours and I finally started to feel like I was getting myself together. It felt good to follow through so completely on something. The new pattern, which is still forming, has become one where I find the next thing I want to pursue and then do so until it reaches its natural limit. I can see this limit coming with my current job in Japan, and the prospect of what will come next is both daunting and exciting. Though the next thing I do may be another temporary move (eg, further education), I think after that I will want to settle into something I can put a good twenty years into.
Life now: I really like Japan, and plan to stay one more year after my current contract expires. I teach English in a high school and also work for the Board of Education in my prefecture. For some of my students, I am the first foreigner they ever knew. When I start teaching them, they are at the end of their fourth year of non-holistic language study that focuses on reading and writing. They have hardly spoken English in a class at this point, and most have never spoken it to a native speaker of English. My class is oral communication, so you can imagine how daunting it seems for them at first, and I’ve had a lot of good experiences helping students to feel more confident about speaking the English they know. I like seeing that moment where they realise that speaking English is not beyond them, as most are so sure it is. There is nothing I like better in any dealing with any child I have contact with than showing them their own ability or worth.
So finally, who am I? I’m a woman who has had a pretty ordinary life on the surface, but who feels as if her life is profound in its own understated way. I work, I have friends, I am part of a family. I have a few hobbies and a few goals I’m working on. In terms of making my mark on the world, I go with the ‘starfish on the beach’ theory of making a difference. I don’t have to change the world, just the world of each starfish I get a chance to pick up. I’m also grateful for the people in my life who recognise my ‘starfish moments’, and who pick me up and throw me back into the ocean when I need them to. A recent personality test that my friends and I tried showed that while I am a realist, I surround myself with idealists. This is very true and indicative of my take on the world.
I’ve made enough mistakes in life to be wary of great responsibility. I’m unskilled with money; great at relationships (though between them right now); handy with words, but not with my hands; a visual learner, lacking in spacial sense. Music is very important to me, on several different levels. There are children who love me and my love them tells me that I want my own children one day. Sometimes that thought makes me feel lonely. I have great friends. I start every important new role or task by buying appropriate stationery. The internet takes too much of my time. Any questions?
Wonderful post, enjeeo! I'm so glad for the chance to get to know you better. I can't wait to see where the next goal will take you. Keep reaching for the stars!
Posts: 5509 | Registered: May 1999
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Rakeesh Unexplained phenomenon. I also dance really well.
Ophelia Two and a half years now, mostly at the same school. Graduation day is tomorrow and I have to wave goodbye to another set of students. *sigh* Will probably cry...always do.
Shan You haven't heard that one? It's one that keeps going around, like the 'Footprints' story. Here's a link. Sorry about the music, but it was the first site I (finally found) that told it my favourite way.
quote:I like to think that realism and optimism aren't entirely incompatible
Yeah, exactly. It's like, if the idealists never voice those ideals, the realists wouldn't know what to aim for...they'd just think that they have to work with what they have right now.
Kate Emily I've considered it a hundred times, but I find it hard to do without feeling like I am writing about either myself, or someone I know. I'm working on creating an original chracter who isn't too much of that.
Irami Thanks sweetie. Where's my next draft of Darius?? I'm on holiday from tomorrow for an entire month!
Gosh everyone, I didn't expect this to be so nice but I feel all squishy inside...thanks.
Nice to get to know more about you, Enjeeo. I didn't see anything in there mentioning your excellent editing skills. I can't think of anyone I would rather have read a story and give good, relevant suggestions.
Posts: 4548 | Registered: May 2001
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enjeeo, thanks. Ditto what porcelin girl said. Thank you for your post, and thank you for being at Hatrack. You make the sun shine brigter, and you say what I am thinking better than I could.
Posts: 26077 | Registered: Mar 2000
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enjeeo- it is disgusting how many beautiful complex stories I have imagined up, begun and then simply not returned to. At this point it is pretty much a matter of zero time. It amazes me how much my free time has literally gone to zero now that I have a second kid. One daughter was a piece of cake (comparatively speaking). With a 2 year old and a 1 month old it is pretty much impossible to get anything done other than basic daily tasks. I am hoping that in a year or so I will have some free time again to write a bit.
Posts: 4548 | Registered: May 2001
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I wish I had more ideas...it's always the biggest hurdle for me. Once I know what to write, I can go ahead and write it.
Recently I joined a writer's group with some other Hatrackers. We are just getting started, but I've been working on something that was in my ideas file in my Writers' Deskbook. I wish there were more workable ideas in there, but at least I am writing something, which is more than I've done for a long time.