Prior to leaving for China, I was living a very comfortable life. Things were easy, I lived at home, worked with people I adored who made me laugh every single day, a bi-weekly salary that allowed me to pay my bills, travel, purchase things I didn’t need and save.
Suddenly this comfortable life started to feel extremely uncomfortable. I found myself feeling anxiety on a daily basis. One night I accompanied my best friend to a dinner, and I found myself having to run to the bathroom almost on the verge of tears with my heart beating so fast it almost felt like it wanted to come through my chest. What was wrong with me?
The tears decided to drench my face as I sat in my best friends cozy blue car parked outside of my house. For the next two hours, we sat there trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. As I heaved and attempted to snort my boogers back into my nose while using my sleeves as replacement tissues to wipe my tears, we concluded that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to be living and instead I was simply settling.
I wondered what had happened to the girl that had dreams and aspirations of working for television stations like MTV, the girl who aspired to inspire young black women and travel the world. Isn’t that the reason I completed college? I figured out that she probably took a step back the moment she didn’t get hired after her internship at MTV Canada and this uncomfortable feeling I felt was her trying to sneak back in.
With this sense of discontentment in my life and this revelation of what I believed was causing it, I took the time to figure out what my next steps would be. After numerous discussions with my friends and family members and a tremendous amount of self-reflection, I decided I was going to take my love of traveling, broadcasting and philanthropy overseas. I took steps to become certified to teach abroad and even after I received my certification it still took me a few months to let go of the rope I called comfort because I was scared.
My final push happened one night as I sat in the kitchen with my grandmother. As she drank her tea like she did every night before bed, my grandmother shared stories with me of what life was like for her when she first came to Canada. That night as I lay in bed with my eyes wide open, I reflected on the sacrifices she made in hopes her family would have a better life. In 1968 my grandmother left Jamaica on her own leaving behind eight children, she started off working as a nanny for wealthy families and moved on to work in factories. Each time she got paid she would send money home to Jamaica, put money aside to pay for the kids plane tickets to come to Canada and saved to purchase a home for her and her children. The house she eventually bought 36 years ago is the same place where I lay my head to sleep almost every night.
That very same evening I finally took steps to apply for teaching jobs abroad and in less than two months I found myself at Pearson International airport with tears streaming from my face and in one trembling hand a one-way ticket to Harbin, China saying bye to my friends and family.
During that year abroad I did exactly what I wanted to do. I traveled to 6 different countries, created videos that I shared with the world, met some amazing people, and volunteered in countries like The Philippines and Indonesia. Through my videos and blog posts, I’ve been able to connect with others who also have the desire to travel and teach abroad. I’ve learned that not only was I able help them on their journey by answering the questions they had sent me via e-mail or responding to comments they’ve left on my videos but I had also inspired them to let go of the fear that was sometimes holding them back.
I still don’t have everything figured out, and there are days I still have to remind myself that I can’t allow fear dictate how I’m going to feel day to day because we are for the most part the authors of this amazing thing we call life. As long as we’re on this earth, we might as well make an effort to live a life that we can look back on one day and say that was the best book I’ve ever read.
Stay Restless my friends!
If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out my video below Kaila has moved to China!