ENTP. INFJ. Any half-educated psychology major or overzealous Cosmo quiz enthusiast can effortlessly rattle off the accompanying personality traits for these acronyms. I, however, like to assert that my personality is simply a plethora of P’s- peppy, positive, professional, patient, perfectionistic. But in direct violation of my ‘P’ dominant personality, my last day at SMA 3 culminated in a verbal explosion- in a fit of rage I am not proud to admit that I am capable of, I ended up engaged in an impromptu shouting match with a senior teacher at my school. I somehow get the inkling that this was not in the repertoire of behaviors that the Fulbright committee envisioned for the ‘cultural ambassador’ tenant of their program.
Months later and now comfortably settled into the predictability and routine of American life, smoky tendrils of the remnants of my time in Indonesia still plague my brain, leaving me wondering where this experience, this year that was supposed to be so earth-shrinking, mind-opening, and revealing, became so sour. Was there a single turning point, some invisible, intractable event that determined, “Yup, from here on out, your year is going to suck”? Was it that my behaviors and actions somehow conflicted with those around me? Or was it simply that I did not fit?
I came into this year with an open heart and an open mind, and left with anger and whole lot of diarrhea (which may or may not explain the anger. It’s hard to retain a genuine smile and persona when you feel like you are pooping out your own intestines on a daily/hourly basis). I had high goals for my students and even higher expectations for myself. But what I hadn’t previously realized is how dependent goals and expectations are on one’s immediate environment. I did not mesh with Medan, not then, not now, and certainly not in the future. My overly sensitive nature was constantly squandered by the blunt and abrasive communication style that is unique to Medan. My feelings were constantly hurt, and, like a petty 2 year old, I responded by lashing out, leaving myself embarrassed at the triviality of my own behavior and the recipients of my verbal tirades feeling moderately shocked and more-than-moderately disrespected. Teachers failed to show up, and those who did were unprepared and uninspired, and I took this as a personal affront and excuse to wage war.
I am a passionate (another P characteristic) individual, and I was not willing to sacrifice my beliefs in education in order to more easily mesh with my environment. I believe that each of my students is capable of greatness, that creative lessons foster an excitement for learning, and that it is the role of educators to inspire students and instill within them a thirst and enthusiasm for studying. And while it is acceptable for me to hold these beliefs, they need to be expressed in the correct environment. Medan was not that environment, and while I wished and fought for it to be so, I burnt out and was left with hostility and the sting of failure. But that does not mean that I have given up. If anything, Indonesia has affirmed my desire to teach, to search for the ‘right’ environment, to learn how to respectfully express my beliefs and ideals if I do teach in a personality-mismatched environment again. Indonesia is just chapter one, and chapter one ended in failure. But it has set the stage for chapters two through _, providing me with invaluable information as to which environment myself and my students can flourish in, which comforts I am able to sacrifice, and which ideals are steadfast and will remain ingrained in my teaching practices. Just because I took a wrong turn does not mean that I cannot get back on track, and I will enthusiastically continue my journey through teaching despite the bumps and wrong turns along the way, but with hopefully fewer explosions (verbal or otherwise) the next time ‘round.