I spend a lot of time thinking about time. I remember before I left home I worried I would revert to “countdown mode” too much–a tactic I’ve used a lot at summer camp or during long erg pieces where I think about how much time have left and then think back to how long ago that was in the past, using my memory to comfort me (i.e. “I have 3000 km left to row and 3000 km ago was the 6k mark, that was so recently” or, more relevantly, “I have 184 days left away from home, and 184 days ago was April 12th and I went to lunch with my friends, I remember that so well!!”).
My whole life, I’ve enjoyed thinking about the future, or, more precisely, about my future. I’ve had so many plans for myself: of course, the typical teacher, fashion designer, president phases but also more specific ones, even just related to the breakfast I would eat the next morning or what my friends and I would do to celebrate being done with an important race. I’ve realized recently that it may be because I also really enjoy thinking of ways to better myself, and I actually am really hard on myself and am quite a perfectionist.
At the beginning of my time away from home I spent a lot of my time thinking about all these things–the 8 months away, the hours I had already been away from home, the fact that eight months ago was January, and then, that I had been away for a month, for six weeks, that I was 20% of the way through–my mind just kept running with thoughts about time. Whether it was on the bus, or at work, or sitting at a family dinner where I don’t understand the dialogue (on a side note, I am getting better at this), I have a lot of time to think to myself- partially because my schedule is so free compared to what I’m used to from high school and partially because the language barrier sometimes isolates me from conversation, especially casual conversation (again, I’m getting better at this).
At first I got really mad at myself for thinking this way. I thought I wasn’t “living in the moment” enough, I worried that when I got home I would regret that the whole time I was away I only thought about getting home. But, I started to think these thoughts less and less the more time I lived in Florianopolis, the more adjusted I got to my job and family, and the more detached from home I became. I also realized that I was overthinking everything. If it helped me cope with homesickness and culture shock, and I was still doing all I could to get out and active in my new community, then so what that I missed home? I was overthinking my overthinking, and it was doing nothing but stress me out and block me from seeing everything I was experiencing in a more positive light.
I also realized there’s a difference between missing home and wanting to go home, and that’s a difference I wished I had been able to recognize earlier in the process, when I was nonstop beating myself up about missing home and letting my perfectionism get in the way. The most important thing I’ve learned so far, and the most important thing I’m going to carry with me throughout the next six months, is to trust myself and trust the process. Trust that I will stop overthinking. Trust that I will eventually become adjusted to where I live and work. Trust in myself and my potential to learn and grow and change, and that I have a bigger reason to be in Brazil instead of Boston right now, even if it’s just to change myself.