If it seems like my blog has taken a slightly depressed/emotional shift recently, it is because I have made an absolutely horrible decision. In the moment, it seemed like I was making the decision for the right reasons, and had I stayed it would’ve been for the wrong reasons, but now I see that I couldn’t have been more wrong and have tremendous Regret.
I had been teaching in Phuket, Thailand for 3 weeks. Phuket was also one of the places I had a strong desire to live in prior to even moving here. It seemed like a wonderful place to spend a year of my life on my teaching pilgrimage. Due to my criminal record, it was a blessing that I had been offered work here. Vietnam, China, Korea, and probably Japan are all off the table until next year when two things can get sealed.
The island is beautiful, I was able to go to the beach on the weekends and simply bask in the sun, read as much as my heart’s content, and swim while letting go. It was a weekly ritual I found necessary to deal with work, but also allowed me to completely block out work.
The other 4 teachers I worked with were also all my age. One was one of the coolest and down to earth chicks I knew and her boyfriend was more or less an iron chef here as a consultant for western cuisine with a Thai restaurant. This weekend we all had drinks and he cooked for the 5 of us when we went back to chill at their place.
One of my other coworkers I actually had started to grow immense feelings for. She’s very conservative, but I was in no hurry. She was our Thai teacher assistant. She was always willing to help us if we needed her, she came in and taught a few hours a week with me, and I felt we had an incredible vibe. We had started getting lunch regularly and talking more. I now am seriously frustrated with myself because I could have seen something real and serious materializing had I just put up with the job and been more patient.
I had incredible coworkers, one I could have seen as my girlfriend sooner or later, and lived in one of the top choices of locations in the world if I could live anywhere. I didn’t really realize how good I had it.
Now I’ve painted a picture of why I loved Phuket and why I loved the school I work at, but I haven’t described how absolutely draining and even mortifying working in a Thai government school can be. Part of our contract is that WE’RE NOT ALLOWED, to speak to the Thai teachers for disciplinary issues with our students. We had to speak to the head teacher, who more or less did absolutely nothing and let us continue to be tormented. There was no means for classroom management. These children had the Thai teachers to teach them out of the English books as well, so we weren’t allowed to do that either. We were only allowed to supplement with respect to pronunciation. And the ways we were limited to doing so were coloring worksheets, copying sentences on the board, having them copy a few sentences in their notebooks, and games.
Things my boss told me when it was apparent these kids weren’t learning anything, and hadn’t learned anything the previous years were as follows:
1. If you can get a kid to understand a flash card thats a win. (Yeah, bullshit)
2. If you teach the grammar structure and they can remember it that’s a win. If they know how to say, “I went to the mall at ten o’ clock on Sunday that’s good.” We don’t care if they don’t know how to respond to the question “where did you go on Sunday at ten o’ clock.”
He wanted our lessons to be regurgitating sentence structure and pronunciation drilling. He hadn’t the slightest urge to actually help them understand the meanings of the sentences or applications of the structures they were learning or the applications or situations where they could apply the vocabulary. I felt that I would have had to commit to wasting my time, and that these kids wouldn’t have learned anything. Seeing their curriculum and way of doing things, I can understand why 95%+ of the population speaks close to no English.
I also had no means of disciplining the kids. Its not like America where you can send them to the dean’s office, or a letter home. I would have to deal with kids talking incessantly, and even throwing things at me. One kid stabbed another with a pencil in my friend’s class and he didn’t receive any discipline. These kids were free to do anything they want and ruin the classes for the good kids, so how could I ever expect them to learn anything? It was a truly toxic environment, and day in and day out I dread going to work.
After I had been doing my lesson plans with work from the book for the first three weeks, I had been told I would have to redo 3 weeks of lesson plans on top of my lesson plans for the following week.
The previous day my worst student, Leo, had been dancing on his desk, had thrown a paper at me while I had my back to the board, and when I sent him outside to write lines, of course with my back turned there was Leo gyrating and dry humping the window with the whole class laughing, and OF COURSE, due to my contract there was nothing I could do about it. When I went to tell a Thai teacher who ended up smacking him, I was the one who got scolded about it from my boss.
I decided to quit. I have the worst feelings of regret because I will miss the people I worked with. The two girls I could have seen myself dating, one I met this weekend and had a wonderful night of an Indian feast, shisha, clubbing, and holding each other in sleep, then making love the next morning. I’m really sad. I’ve been single for 4 years, and I’ve hated where I’ve lived for as long as I can remember in Vegas.
Was putting up with all that hell at work worth it, though? I would have been happy with everything in my life outside of work. I had amazing friends, and would have had a girlfriend sooner or later, but was that why I came here in the first place?
In a recent post, I talked about making difficult decisions. I’m wondering to myself if my decision to quit was mainly ego-driven, or whether it was the right decision and that continuing would have been a Machiavellian justification of staying in Phuket. I really don’t know. Its one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but then I think of my intentions and goals in right now in life and and they are as follows.
1. Continue on my teaching pilgrimage and inevitably end up in Tokyo, Japan.
2. Write a best selling novel.
3. Travel Asia extensively to gain perspective for my book and also travel material for my blog.
4. See the 2020 olympics in Japan.
5. Find my next serious relationship.
This is what I’d like to have accomplished by the end of my early adulthood years. It felt like I was leaving so much behind, and that it was so immensely hard, but had I stayed would it have really been wasting my time? I would have developed closer friendships with amazing people, found material for my book, likely had a girlfriend, and built my resume to get to Japan more easily when my record is clean. Staying seems more in alignment with my goals than quitting, and although I’m angry at myself right now, I can’t predict the future. I also can be aware of my ego next time it shows itself in seemingly flawless rationalizations which will lead to a decision I will regret.
I think of a very profound dialogue from Lord of The Rings which has given me tremendous comfort, although I’m still frustrated:
Frodo: Its a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? Its a pity the ring stayed in Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo? Then don’t be so quick to deal out death in the name of judgment. Even the wisest can’t see all ends.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.
Gandalf: So do all that live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All there is to decide is what to do with the time that has been given.
Living in denial or with bad decisions, or in the face of the devil, collectively outside, or manifesting from within is tough. I shouldn’t be too quick to judge myself, though. I have to have compassion for myself and move forward, or I’ll just consume my sanity. I have no choice but to continue swimming on the path I created, and to make the most of the time I have when getting back to Vegas.
In alignment with my goals, my intentions when I get back to Vegas are as follows:
1. Continue writing my book
2. Get into online teaching which could be pretty lucrative and give me more freedom to travel next year.
3. Be responsible with my spending and save as much money for when I get back abroad as possible.
Its gonna be a rough year in Vegas since I totaled my car last year, have an empty resume, criminal record, and a useless college degree, so will probably have to work in some shitty restaurant as a busser. As I see, though, like here as well, my first job will just suck no matter what field it is in. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere.
Until next time,