It has been three and a half months since we finally moved to Guatemala. There were days I was happy and grateful for this new experience but quite frankly, most other days, I’ve felt depressed and lonely. I have been an off-campus student for almost a year and a half now. It was already tough being a few states away from my academic community when I was in California, but I was still lucky enough to find a friend who was in a very similar situation with mine. We both were juggling multiple identities as grad students, academic writers, and newlywed spouses who chose to move away from our school community to be with our partner. It was hard but it was less hard thanks to our friendship because we understood the struggles and at least, we were not alone.
Having an international, as opposed to interstate, long distance relationship with your school presents a whole different level of challenges. Here, it is so hard to find other like-minded writers, scholars, or grad students. And looking at my husband being so busy with work, I felt almost jealous. I wanted to work with people who understand what I do, I wanted to be busy with work that I care about and I wanted to bitch about the things and the people that make me busy but also make me feel that I am making some sort of difference in the world. I’ve felt so lonely, isolated and depressed. Being far away from your community is hard because it essentially means that you are away from the people that know who you are–those who you don’t have to explain yourself all the time. I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore.
But I guess every cloud does have a silver lining. I found a publication opportunity for a special issue of a journal that I have been eyeing for a while. Well, I still need to revise a draft, submit it for review, and wait for a long time, but it’s an opportunity that I can jump right in, right now: I have a draft, and I have time. I have so much time to write and write more. And the realization dawned on me–I will probably never and ever have this much time to write. Once I go back to the US, I’ll probably start working, probably and hopefully I’ll have a lot more opportunities to meet people and socialize with them. Also, not anytime soon, but one day, we might start a family. So, now is a chance for me to focus on my research and hone in on my writing skills. This is the chance that is really not likely to come back again soon. At least, not soon enough. So I really can’t afford to waste this time moping over what I don’t have, or what I am missing out. Instead, I should do what I can do. I should really cherish this moment because this moment will never come back.
Again, being away from your community, and your work is hard. What exactly are you without them? But if you really think about it, what makes you who you are is not the people that you are around with, but rather, it’s what you do day in, day out. Regardless of where you are, or who you are with. So, I’ve made a decision. Instead of being depressed, I choose to enjoy this moment. The moment that I can fully devote myself to what I love and care about, and thus makes me who I am.