Upon reflection

| 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

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

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.

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