I can now officially state that we, here in Kuwait, are in the final home stretch. Woo!
You have been training for this marathon for a while. Your sneakers have logged kilometres on the pavement, you’ve bought the compression socks, visualized the race, and even bought those gel things to eat along the way.
When it comes to the actual race, it’s a lot harder than you anticipated. Yes, it has all the illusions of a marathon, but in reality it’s also an episode of Wipeout. It’s still a marathon, and now it’s also Wipeout. You think to yourself, ‘what the f***?!!!!’. No one told me about this!? Each mile there are different types of obstacles that try to knock you off your feet.
You’ve dodged one, rolled under another, but the obstacles have knocked you on your ass nine times out of ten. You get back up (possibly due to your marathon playlist that is stocked with Chumbawamba), and keep running. You think to yourself, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but I still gotta win the race’ (thanks @champagnepapi).
You’ve made it through ‘the wall’. Mile 20. The big one. You’re still not sure how, but you don’t question it.
And now, the race brings you back into the stadium. You can see the finish line!
It’s just close enough that you feel the energy and excitement – you’re almost there. It’s just far enough that you check yourself. You don’t want to go too quickly and have to walk the ending. You eye the finish line trying to make the appropriate judgement call (except when have you ever been great at those in the first place). You are almost there.
This, my friends, is where we are now. The fourth quarter has rolled up and we are liiiiiiiving it. We are feeeeeeling the heat. And because it’s Kuwait, this is now both literally and metaphorically.
The end, it seems, requires a careful balance of anticipating summer, while still grounding yourself in the reality of the school year. It’s making summer plans, while returning to school the next day to greet the piles of grading you still have to mark. It is both exciting and exhausting.
I have also been finding myself in a more reflective state these days.
Sometimes I think back to the person I was eight months ago. How very young I was.
One of the reasons I moved to Kuwait was to challenge myself. When I was exploring my options of areas of the world to live in, I knew that certain regions would provide me more comfort. The Middle East was completely foreign to me. What I ‘knew’ about the Middle East were things the media was saying, but I also knew not to buy into those stories as news networks are in the business of fear mongering. Because of this, choosing Kuwait was not really a step out of my comfort zone, but more like a huge, ginormous jump.
This jump has shaped me. A lot of the time, I don’t feel young anymore. Especially now that I eat dinner earlier at a time earlier than my grandparents do.
While Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat would show you the highlight reel of my experiences here, it does not reflect the struggles and hardships of life abroad. These social media outlets only reveal certain pieces of my lived experience.
But it is the entire, wholesome experience – the yin and yang – that has allowed me to grow into the person I am, and Kuwait has granted me that. Despite feeling aged and beat up after living here for 8 months, I have grown because of it.
SO – where does that leave me?
I’ve just entered the stadium and I can see the finish line. I glanced at my watch to check how I’m doing with time. I smile to myself. If I can keep this pace up until the end of the race, I’ll have earned myself a new personal best.