When you are off on an adventure overseas, epistolary correspondence is supposed to limited to cheerful topics: the ways in which you are having the best time you've every had, how life is just grand smooth-sailing. Aside from a cultural revelation or two, and perhaps a moving experience whilst volunteering in a poverty-stricken area, you are simply supposed to communicate your excitement, prove how good you are at being international. You are not supposed to talk about discomfort, or missing home other than in a wish-you-were-here sort of way. You shouldn't make people worry, or seem like you are not up for the challenges that come your way.
We are at a very particular moment in history in terms of how much of our lives are displayed publicly. Different people handle this in different ways; some avoid internet activity (though this is becoming more and more difficult), some police the ways in which they interact online, some religiously update their Facebook security settings (actually, this one is probably a good idea for everyone; Facebook is notorious for changing what information is publicly viewable without notifying their users). Other people pay it no mind, figuring that in a few years, there won't be anyone who doesn't have something embarrassing online, essentially canceling out each other's faux pas and creating an entirely different expectation of professionalism.
When I write non-fiction, these sort of issues are even more in focus; the fact that this blog is on my professional website heightens my awareness of the ways in which I curate my internet persona. If a potential employer reads my blog, will she or he view me as less professional if I've articulated moments in which my self-confidence waned? But as a reader, who wants to read guarded, polished prose? When I read, I want something revealed. I want less public persona, and more inner human. Isn't that why we read, go to the cinema, watch plays, look at art, listen to music in the first place?
After mentioning the challenge of teaching English with no previous experience, I find myself bending to reassure you that I'm doing well, tell you that I like my job, reiterate what a blessing it is not only to be on an adventure, but to be challenged to the fullest, learning immersively. (Not many teachers in the US have the freedom I've had to try, fail, succeed, keep trying, fail, and succeed again on a daily basis; to learn trust both themselves and the innate human capacity to learn). I'm even tempted to brag about successful lessons; to tell an inspiring anecdote about a student's improvement; to pass along the positive feedback I've received, in order to not only prove my ability as a teacher, but my confidence in that ability.
But that is self-serving and boring. I trust you, dear readers, to infer those things. And when I speak of challenges, both professional and personal, take that as a token of my trust. You are privy to my inner human, and I'll assume you understand my outer persona could market itself flawlessly if that was the goal. I am sure the world will require it be in the future, so let's enjoy the intimacy while we can!
Check back soon for more...