Tuesday, February 26, 2008

self-endulgent stream of consciousness... enter at your own risk

As an ISFJ (borderline ISTJ in fact) I am extremely good at planning and making decisions. When making a decision, I'm usually very good at thinking through the details and the consequences of doing things one way or another. The upside of something like this is that when I want to, I can make an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch and have everything end up on the table ready to eat at whatever predetermined dinner time I'd established when I started planning. (Contrast this with the Thanksgiving I went to at a friend's place where she didn't even have the turkey in the oven when the guests began arriving). The downside... or I should say one of the downsides is that when it's time to make a big decision, if I can't sort out all the details, and if I can't foresee all of the potential consequences - I become a bit paralyzed and overwhelmed and prefer instead not to make the decision at all, not to take the risk. Another downside is that I'm not very good at imagining things, to visualize situations I haven't experienced.

This is the problem I've been dealing with in regard to my career. I've finally figured out that I want to teach English abroad, at least for a few years. But it's been hard for me to imagine it really happening, and I've been a bit overwhelmed by the idea of trying to figure everything out.

This is the biggest thing I've ever considered doing, and there are so many details, so many consequences, so many things to think through, so many things I've never done. I've been overwhelmed and procrastinating on & off since about October. In the face of my own procrastination and the delays beyond control, I've just been really discouraged.

The current plan is for me to take the next available course - in April. I have another pre-course task to complete... it's thirty pages long, lots & lots of grammar questions. It's not hard, it's even mildly interesting. But it's solo work, to my own timetable... and that's the last thing I need right now. One of the things that appeals to me about teaching is that it is, by it's nature, interactive and somewhat immediate. I can't show up in the classroom and not teach... there will be students there waiting for me. If I'm not prepared - there will be pretty immediate feedback. At my current job I can put in about 50% effort and still accomplish all the things that are expected of me...no one in my office knows or cares what I do all day, as long as things get done. It's soul-suckingly, mind-numbingly boring... and in it's own way exhausting.

Anyway... slowly, slowly, slowly I'm working on the pre-course task... plugging away at it. But I still can't quite keep in mind day-to-day that I could really be leaving the country as early as this summer. It doesn't seem real. I want it to happen, it just doesn't feel like it's really going to. Every once in a while it'll catch me... like I might not even be here for the presidential election! It's just bizarre. For the past several months I've thought about things like moving, or buying a new car, or getting new furniture or visiting family... and then I stop myself and I think ... well, that is if I'm still here. It's driving me crazy! Trying to plan for something that's so amorphous and thus far uncertain. I don't know what exactly to do about it, other than to take one step at a time... finish up the assignment... the least fun aspect of this whole endeavor.

Hmm... I think I had a point when I started this post. But now... not so much. I also think I've caught the cold that's been making it's rounds in my office... so my brain is getting a bit fuzzy.

Look! A kitty!


Michael5000 said...

You crack me the hell up.

"Look! A kitty!"

I'll think I'll go look at mine now.

Karin said...

Wow. I'm an ENFP, your complete opposite, and yet...I too travel from time to time and have taught overseas. Let nothing stop you. You won't regret it.

You're so right, you can't half way show up to teaching. You've got to be all there. The rewards are big though--no soul sucking.

Bezzie said...

Huh? What were you saying? That cute cat got in my line of sight.

No, I know what you mean. I call that limbo. And limbo sucks.

d said...

i do the exact. same. thing. it's paralyzing is what it is.

go! teach abroad! exciting! if you want to talk to someone about their experience doing such things, let me know. i can put in touch with my friend jeannette.

much luck with the decision making.

Olga said...

Maybe you could play a little mind trick with yourself,get out a suitcase and start listing the things you'll have to pack and keep the list in the open suitcase, then when you think of something you jot it down and the reality of going may become more concret in your mind and your taking steps towards THE big day.
And yeah, I'm a big one for passing out advice while I loll around doing nutin!

IamSusie said...

My aunt and uncle spent many years teaching at an American school in Egypt. They loved it. You should definitely do this. I have always felt a similar longing for an international life, but I married young and the demands of marriage and family keep me here in the US.

It's so weird because something I read in the paper made me want to go and look up my Myers_Briggs personality before I even read your blog today. I'm an INFP. I read my personality article from the website you linkied to.....My optimism and sense of wonder encourage you to go forward with this for the greater good of humanity. ;-)

Magatha said...

This is going to irritate you at first, but bear with me and try to see what I mean.

You can plan all of tomorrow out to the last imaginary scenario, and still tomorrow in your same old unfulfilling job and same old Portland could throw you two or three curveballs you never would have anticipated in a million years. Just the way you dealt with the coatless car break down adventure, you can deal with situations, unplanned for, that will arise in a foreign country. You are always capable of more than you think.

You can prepare and plan for the future but you can never know what will actually happen. It is best to strive for what your heart wants, (a new fulfilling career!) and let the cards fall where they will.
You will change too. In ways you might not foresee at all.

Do it. Go. Experience chaos theory in action.

Rebel said...

M5K - glad you find my emotional turmoil amusing. =P

karin - it's funny most of my friends have been ENFPs it can be a good balance, except when we try to plan an outing! Just let me be in charge and everything will be just fine. ;)

Bezzie... yup kitty is a cure for the common limbo

d - I'm glad I'm not the only one!

olga... that's actually extremely good advice! I need to pull out my suitcases and just have them where I can see them, as a constant reminder. Plus I love my suitcases - they're pink. =)

susie - there's always the retirement job! thanks for your encouragement

magatha - I'm not irritated at all. I know you're right...but it's like the difference between driving & flying. Driving is by far more dangerous, but you have the illusion of control... with flying it's all, literally up in the air totally out of your control. (unless of course your hubby is the one flying. ;) )

gl. said...

infj here: i have great faith that once you're in motion, you'll be more than adequately prepared to handle whatever comes next. :)