It has been an extremely hard weekend for me in Ecuador. My family is going through various problems that, unfortunately, will probably have some sort of impact on my school life. Due to these problems, I have spent the majority of my free time running, in my room or going for long walks.
I think that everyone, at some point in their life has had a problem opening up to others. It seems to be quite common. People don't want others knowing their problems, think they will be judged or simply like to keep things to themselves. Opening up about my personal issues in life has always been a serious problem. Whether it was school problems, friend problems or sports problems, I always seemed to keep a lot of emotions bottled up. I have always loved helping others, listening to others but could never ever seem to resolve my own problems like I helped others resolve theirs! Ecuador has most defiantly changed that. I can guarantee one hundred and ten percent that if I were to keep my problems to myself, I would have been on the plane home about 2 months ago. Keeping emotions bottled up here is toxic.
I will honestly admit that I have cried more in the last 4 months than in the last 10 years of my life. I have screamed, bawled and have actually been angry enough to want to hit someone. Completely and totally un-Shannon-like. My sisters of Guaranda, who I have known for only 4 months, know everything about me. My life. My past. My dreams. Everything. It is incredible with how close we have gotten after only 4 months. I have developed the friendships to last a lifetime, mostly due to the fact that we have all replied on each other to talk to. I know I can openly talk about anything, and they will understand. Most likely, they have had or are having some of the same problems.
Unfortunately, I have let the negative parts of my life here affect me even after talking about it with my sisters I am sure that someone's advice to me would be to ignore my family problems. Ignore the fact that I am learning nothing in school. Ignore the fact that I really have no close Ecuadorian friends. Ignore the negative in my life totally and completely. My response, you try it. You try waking up everyday and going to a class of 48 people where no one really talks to you unless it's to copy your English homework. You try coming home and not seeing your father for the whole day which you know means an impending fight between your parents later in the night. It is not possible. It is bound to affect me somehow.
However, I have learned things through these experiences and emotions that I never would have ever been able to realize in the United States, where my family life is stable and I spend my time with loving friends and completing useful homework assignments. In order to make it through the tough times, focus on the happy memories. When parents are fighting, focus on the pizza dinner a month ago where the whole family ate pizza and laughed and joked. When teachers are blabbing away about lazy students and horrible grades, remember the day when I successfully completed my first Spanish project and received a 10. When Angelina is screaming and hitting, I remember the day when she climbed into my arms and, with tears in her eyes, told me she never wanted me to leave.
Maybe I have horrible negative experiences. I guarantee that I will have more in the next 6 months. But, unlike the common misconception that negative experiences will bring down the trip in its entirety, this is not possible. I have had too many happy memories. Too many laughs and smiles. Too many amazing and wonderful moments with my friends and family. Should I switch families? Maybe. Will I? No. I love my two sisters, brother and my mom to do that. I will have hundreds of more positive experiences and memories to remember when I am home in the US.
I will continue talking to my friends and, to say it plainly, surviving.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."
© Max Ehrmann 1927