Friday, January 22, 2016

Away With the Shoulds

Something I've learned over time is that, for me, making lots of goals is counter-productive. When I was in Canada, I went along with the mentality of “Do lots; be productive”. That word productive, ironically, was counter-productive for me. I'd feel guilty if I didn't have plans for any given day, and I'd push myself to fill that space with something: go out with friends! If friends aren't available, go to a social club and meet people! Go to the gym! Find a class to join! Make money online! Instead of trusting my instincts to do whatever I felt like, I'd stress out and try to overcome my guilt over wanting to just be. If I wanted to stay home and do nothing, I'd feel guilty. If I wanted to spend hours reading a book, I'd feel guilty. If I wanted to bake a shitload of sweets, my jeans would feel guilty. Instead of listening to my short-term need to chill, I'd stress myself out with the guilt and push myself to do SOMETHING.

And in the end, what for? Out of the umpteen people I met at those social clubs, only one is still a friend. My closest friends are those whom I'd already forged relationships with, and they blossomed tranquilamente, with time. Plus, this former gym bunny is currently not going to a gym right now. Neither do I have extra money to join a class (actually, I do, but I prefer to spend it on travel and vermouth). And I still haven't finished reading that damn book.

The lesson I learned, which probably applies only for me, is that listening to my guilt and not my personal instinctual needs didn't help me enjoy the present. I was more concerned about how I appeared to others rather than how I felt at that moment. Right now I have a lot of time on my hands while I work through a personal situation. I've caught myself worrying about how to be productive, but then realized that right now I need to take care of myself: read, sleep, spend time with those closest to me, snuggle under warm blankets at home. There's a Canadian guilt inside of me wanting to get out there and start running on the track (metaphorically speaking), but I've had an injury and need to rest. I don't think a temporary absence of a month or so will hurt me. So fuck the Shoulds; I'm going to go with the Needs.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Living Without Internet

I haven't had internet at home for two years.

It started when I moved to Spain. Before that, I'd always had internet in Canada. I couldn't imagine being without it. Even at work, I was always online. When I didn't have plans to go out, I didn't mind because I could stay home and entertain myself with my computer.

Then I moved to Villacarrillo. With my limited Spanish, it was difficult as hell reading the contracts and stipulations on internet company websites. At the only computer store in the village, the clerk said he'd look for a company that wouldn't force me to sign a one-year contract (auxiliary contracts are only worth 8 months of salary). “Te llamo,” he said to me. I thought I'd understood him.

Except I returned to his shop the next day. I obviously had no idea that he said he would call me. “Nooooo, te LLAMO.” he bellowed. Oops. I never did get that internet. The difficulty in signing up for it was too much.

But I learned to live without it. I learned to get a cheap mobile data provider, so I could use Whatsapp and check email on my phone. I used WiFi at my workplaces so that I could Skype.
Stealing my friend's internet
A Canadian friend, who taught English for years in Korea and Turkey, told me she purposely didn't get internet because it forced her to go to internet cafes or pilfer WiFi at eating establishments. In essence, it forced her to get out of the house and interact with society. I agree that not having internet makes you integrate with your community. Unfortunately, this year the internet access at my workplaces isn't great. However, when planning lessons it forces me to be creative and rely on more “organic” activities, rather than Youtube videos or fancy presentations. Recently I walked into a 5th grade class without any planning whatsoever. I suddenly remembered a question and answer game I'd read about, and explained the rules to the kids on the spot. They ended up loving it so much that they've played it over and over again. I'm glad they love a game where everyone is obligated to speak and practice their English.

I'm sure in the future I'll sign up for home internet. Hopefully by then, I'll feel the lull of the outside world calling me, shut down my computer each afternoon, and step out into the community.

Have you ever dreamt of not having internet at home? Would you try it? Share you thoughts below.