Alone in the Belizean Wilderness

Earlier this week I boarded a flight with the intention of not returning to the States for a while. You see, immediately upon my graduation from college I yearned for a continuation of the challenge of mind. When I began my formal art education, I learned that there was an entire area of myself that I had not noticed. I have always been good at about anything I have tried, and if I wasn’t, I simply didn’t partake in whatever that was. I grew up with ease because what society had decided to test its children on was exactly what I was good at. I liked to study and do my homework as a kid, I was the one girl the boys were afraid to lose to in our grade school mile running tests, and heck, I didn’t even try to disobey my parents or break the rules at school. All in all, life was easy. I grew up well because I was always above the standard.

But that was it.

If I could reach a mark, if I could set the mark, I was good. I was golden. I was told that I was brilliant and I’d be successful in life.  I believed this until I started studying art.

I was twenty-one when I began my formal art training and for the first time in my life as a student, I wasn’t placed on a pedestal. My teachers were mentors, they would tell me when I screwed up, and they couldn’t care any less about benchmarks. For the first time in a long time, I had to be vulnerable. Art challenged a region of my heart that had not been touched. Instead of memorizing theorems or learning laws of nature or preparing papers based on well documented public knowledge, I had to look at the work of another and understand the human condition that wasn’t utilizing the written word. In every other discipline I could see, absorb, and understand, but with art? No. I had to put forth an authentic effort to understand because someone’s lifework was in front of me and there wasn’t an abstract or sources attached.

It was a beautiful encounter that floored my curiosity. I was now not afraid of that which I didn’t know but rather wanted to discover all of it and take it head on. It was as if I had this addiction to discovery of self through uncertainties, making mistakes, and not being perfect.

I had let too many years pass before I recognized how beautiful vulnerability was.

And thus, after the challenge of my final year of college, I couldn’t but notice a desire to enter into an unknown. So as I sit here writing this alone in a house with barbed wire surrounding the property, on a street no wider than a one-way in the States, in a small town in the rolling hills outside of Guatemala, I am blessed to share that while I have never been to this country I now live in before this week, and while I have not yet met the people that I will be working with, and while I have never held such a high responsibility as I do now with the education of young minds, I am so joyful and so honored to be entering into this humbling unknown.

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