Finding courage to quit the “rat race”

at the base of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero
at the base of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero

A little over a year ago, I decided to quit my full-time job as a Spanish-English translator and English for Speakers of Other Languages Teacher at a school district in South Carolina and follow a quiet, but persistent dream to move back to Ghana, where I had recently lived during my graduate studies. When I turned in my resignation notice, I breathed a sigh of relief for my courage but cringed at the thought of sharing the news with colleagues, close friends, and family. Would they think I was crazy for giving up a guaranteed job in a field that I loved? How would my parents react to their college graduate losing her state funded retirement plan, nice health insurance policy, and income? Yet, as I began to share my decision with my school principal and friends, I realized no one cared but me. That’s right. No one cared about my decision but me. Everyone was actually excited to see me move back to West Africa and take the next step to advance my career. Seeing everyone’s reactions (or lack thereof)helped me to realize I was who I had been waiting on. For months, this desire to move back to Ghana occupied my thoughts and dreams, but I was too afraid to listen to them. I thought people’s perceptions of me and my decisions, not my own thoughts, mattered more than following my gut. Boy was I wrong.

As I write this post today, I am staring out the window my apartment in Campo Grande, Brazil. I recently moved here to begin tenure as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Brazil (more to come). Never could I have imagined that a simple but calculated decision to uproot my entire life again to West Africa would set in motion events and opportunities I could never plan for. I applied for a Fulbright in fall 2012 to teach English in Colombia. I advanced in the competition but after landing in Ghana in March 2013, I was notified that I was an alternate. I really wanted the Fulbright, but I accepted that I would make a life in Ghana interning/looking for jobs/working and building a life that I loved. And that’s what I did. I interned with World Education Ghana, an organization that sponsors literacy and education projects in resource-poor areas of Ghana and moved in with my best friend from my master’s program. Four months into my stay in Ghana, Fulbright offered me a position in Brazil, which is of course my favorite country in the world. I jumped, I screamed, I replied yes, yes I will go. 6 months later, here I am.

Day by day, I am getting better at this listen to Regina thing while letting life run its course. If there has  ever been anything you have wanted to do, who are you waiting for? We all have different “rat races” that we blindly flow. Have the courage to do you because you are who you have been waiting for.

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