I often grumble about language classes. Mainly because I never talk about anything else besides language nowadays. I grumble about how mentally exhausting it is and how everyone expects more out of us than I physically have the capacity to do. I grumble about how difficult it is and how somedays I feel like nothing sticks. I grumble about homework and not knowing how or what to study. I just sorta grumble all day long. And this negative energy is miserable. Language is hard, boo hoo. It can be incredibly frustrating to have no measurable or perceived notion of progress. We know what score we need to obtain in order to get off language probation and go to post, but there is no real measure in class of how we are doing. It feels like we are just building a lego castle one brick at a time, but we have no concept of what the final design is supposed to look like. I spend so much mental energy on Arabic, when I get frustrated it seems to come out as whatever emotion my body’s emotion roulette wheel just landed on. Most of the spaces are filled with tears. Because learning a new language is hard.
But when I get too far into the weeds of language despair, I sit back and think about everything that has happened in the past year. I start listing off things I’m grateful for. I start thinking about the little things that make me happy. I think about how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing. And suddenly all my worries seem so much less significant. And I feel right with the world again.
Three years ago, today, I was boarding a plane bound for Ghana. I spent two years hot, sweaty, and poor. I treasured running water and air conditioning. I obsessed over food. I was rarely healthy. And now I have the greatest luxury of all: a good paying dream job. I am eternally grateful for everything I have, because less than a year ago I had barely anything. I used to grumble about the stench of my latrine when someone forgot to put down the cover. Now I grumble about getting paid to learn a fascinating language all day? Perspective is truly everything when you’ve seen both sides. Sometimes, I just forget to look back. We all do I guess. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own world and issues, that we forget to be thankful. We forget to take a step back and see the bigger picture. And sometimes this girl needs a post-it note on the back of her door that says: “suck it up, cupcake.” Just a friendly reminder that gratitude can affect your attitude.