Upon reflection

A good day of work at IBM and some time to reflect have left me with a clearer perspective. I think one of the reasons why homesickness hits me so hard sometimes is that I entertain this notion that if I go back home, I can still make a big difference even without a master's degree. I would need to work harder, but I might not need to stretch myself as much.

Perhaps I had gotten addicted to the instant payoff of happy people, to the feeling that I was making a difference in someone's life. Even though I was teaching rather inconsequential subjects (as I told myself every time I messed up a class), each aha! moment validated my existence. ;) From this distance, it's easy to gloss over my insecurity and remember only that I had so much fun teaching. I remember what I knew how to do and not what I didn't, but fortunately my blog has all the stories about emergency chocolate munching under desks.

Now that I can see it, I realize that intellectual laziness - fantasizing about something within my abilities instead of daring to stretch them - is not true to my values. The constant lesson of my childhood was "To whom much is given, much is expected," and so much has been given to me. I am not supposed to take it easy, to be content with what I know. I would be doing a disservice to my future students if I couldn't challenge them with or tell them stories about other teachers I've had, other projects I've worked on. I would be doing a disservice to other people if I didn't take advantage of the opportunities I have.

I shouldn't worry about whether IBM will have a place for me after I graduate or whether I'll get into graduate school if I choose to go for a PhD. I've lived all my life according to what I learned from my parents - make your own opportunities. If I make the most of life, if I am _here_ while I'm here, then I can choose what would be best for me.

I have to admit that it's still scary. I find it hard to imagine life here past August 2007 not because I hate Canada or my studies or IBM, but because I'm worried about losing ties to home. I feel guilty at the thought of being temporarily away from my country because I'm afraid to be permanently away, to be part of the brain drain, to be seduced into complacency by personal comforts. I'm afraid to become a stranger to my friends and my family. I'm afraid that if I make the sacrifice of being far away from them, I'll find myself growing old in an apartment with a computer and several (dozen) cats. ;) (To think that that was what I dreamed of before, but now I want friends, too...) Silly thought, I know, but I'm allowed to have silly fears as long as I can recognize them.

The key, then, is to get over my intellectual laziness and my irrational fear. ;) I need to dare to imagine a life that pushes me beyond the demands that anyone at home would make of me. I need to be confident that the world will support me as it always has, that everything will dovetail together and even seeming failures will turn out for the best in the long run. And hey, one or two horror stories are good things to share with people, anyway.

I don't know how the future will work out, but I choose to no longer consider the comfortable obscurity of which I used to idly dream. Now I am alive. Now I am here.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: あなたは黒い猫が好きですか。 Do you like a black cat?