Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is openness selfish?

I’m here – I’m in Kingston Jamaica. I’ve been here 4 days. In SKWiD training one of the conversations is about whether or not to share negative things with our people back home – what good can it do (feeling supported), and what bad (worrying loved ones who can’t help; being disappointed in their inability to help). I’ve been reflecting back on that conversation this week as I navigate the steaming miasma of a new country, essentially a new language, all the endings I left behind, and all the questions that lay ahead. 

Nothing about Kingston is negative, so far. It’s not that. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, we sometimes are locked out of the water supply for (knock wood) short periods. Yes, I’m learning to navigate systems in a place where everything still looks the same to me. It’s early days, and Kingston is a rewarding challenge. 

The only real struggle I’ve had is feeling isolated. We are in training all day, which means I can’t get to the necessary government office to get the tax registration number I need to get home Internet. I am home alone by 5 every evening, and in bed hours earlier than I normally would be just because there is no loneliness in sleep. Except, of course, when there is. Damn dreams. 

My roommate arrives tomorrow, but I don’t expect her to fill those aching gaps. She is a stranger-roommate. Not a son. Definitely not a lover. Not my champion who for years has reassured me at every turn that I can do anything. Not even yet a friend. I know myself well enough to have anticipated that this would be my first, and perhaps my biggest, hurdle. And I know that sharing it may be a selfish act, but there it is. I am not just alone – I am lonely. 

I seem to have lost by two best friends somehow this summer. They have left large holes. I have a lot of love in my life, but it’s hard to feel it across a large continent and a wee sea. I feel it reaching, but not within reach, at least not yet reliably so. I know it's there ... 

The upside is, I am learning to stand tall on my own. To cross traffic where pedestrians have no rights. To cook with local flavours and ingredients. To turn on the boiler in the morning or enjoy my cold shower (mostly that). To include sunscreen and bug spray in my morning routine. Once I get over the ache of what was, I’ll be even more ready to celebrate what is.  

I am on a grand adventure – I have been blown away by the people of Kingston, their patience with my inability to understand their accents, the amazing customer service everywhere, how nicely put together people are at their businesses, the food, my 5-month home ... I haven’t seen a lot of the city so far, but I am so excited already with the opportunities to learn and grow and explore. 

I didn’t expect to be this lonely this soon. I didn’t expect to feel so shut in when the sun goes down completely by 6:30 and I’m encouraged to stay in my apartment. I know this feeling is very transitional, but it was surprisingly fast. 

As always, music is my friend. Tonight I have been listening to this on repeat while I scrub the kitchen:


Do not worry – I am happy. I’m proud of myself for being here, for seeing that my life wasn’t what I wanted or needed and doing something about it. It’s just hard, sometimes, to keep looking forward. I am using a cliche as a mantra. I wonder how you say it in patwa. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your authentic self and experiences. Your friends are listening, even if you can't hear them yet. (Hope you get your own internet soon.) What an amazing adventure you're on. Not just another country and another work, but the adventure within, to who you are at the core. It's a courageous journey. PS - I hear cold shower therapy helps builds your courage - not that you need much help there.

    1. Ha - thanks, Karma. In truth the 'cold water' here is never very cold, but I am enjoying the refreshing start to the day.

      Every day I feel more connected (yes, the Internet helps!) and every day I feel more here. By February I'm sure I'll be saying it's gone too fast and I'm not ready to go home.

  2. I love your openness, Shannon. I watch your facebook and this blog and my thoughts are with you a lot, so though you feel lonely, many people are thinking of you, cheering on your brave life choices. xo.

    1. Thanks, Tasha. Coming from an adventurous woman like yourself, that means a lot. :)


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