Back in America

I have been unsettled in the past few weeks and I know I am not alone. At first, the thought of being quarantined indefinitely was nerve-wracking, especially when I was on lockdown in Kuwait. Yesterday, was my last day of self-quarantining and I am relieved. Now that I am with my family I have accepted our current situation for what it is. There is nothing we can do to change things. My school has recently moved to e-learning in addition to the assignments I have been giving them. This is my first time doing virtual learning along with many other teachers and I struggled to start. Sometimes it takes me a while to get adjusted to change, but under the current circumstances, I have been forced to just do it. Since I have time, I also uploaded my first video. Video editing is something else I have been practicing and struggling with, but now I am at a comfortable level. I still have more to learn and I plan to keep producing videos to work on that skill. In this post I want to update from my last post when I was leaving Kuwait.

The flight from Kuwait to New York was 12 hours long, but I listened to music, edited a video, and slept. This was probably the first time I didn’t watch a movie during my flight. The flight attendants wore white suits that covered them from head to toe. The first time they came to collect our trash I handed over my empty water bottle and they told me to keep it just in case I needed to refill it. I didn’t ask any further questions because I didn’t want to know what they meant. I assumed that they would be back to refill it. I also thought they meant refill it in the bathroom. I refused to believe that was true because that’s disgusting. I saw the attendants throughout the flight and as I saw them doing everything, but bring more water, a bathroom refill seemed more true. The next time they came around was about an hour before we landed in New York. I was so dehydrated that during the flight I had to find an attendant and they gave me a cup of water. I was expecting to be inconvenienced throughout my trip, but I wasn’t expecting that. I have been experiencing inconveniences for almost a month now so I knew it was coming. I just wasn’t expecting them not to give more water.

Once I arrived at JFK, I went through customs easily. I didn’t get checked or forced into quarantine, mainly because I wasn’t coming from any high-risk countries. Only the people from my flight were in customs so the line was short. On top of that, the people on my flight were all coming from Kuwait. I mentioned in my previous post that Kuwait closed its borders in the second week of March. My flight was the only flight leaving from Kuwait that day. Despite all the inconveniences, I was still hopeful that I could get an easier flight to Barbados. In my mind, it never hurts to ask or to try. I already had a flight scheduled for the next morning. It was around 3:00pm and I wanted to try to leave sooner. Not only was my flight to Barbados canceled, but the next flight was the next afternoon. Another inconvenience.

When I got to the JetBlue counter, the agent was super extra. She asked me to step back even though the counter kept the right distance between us. She also didn’t want to touch my passport even though she had on gloves. I can admit that I needed to get over myself for those two things, but when she told me the borders were closed and asked me if I have been watching the news, it was frustrating. I booked my ticket to Barbados the day before I left Kuwait, Barbados was still letting people in. On top of that, they were allowing Islanders who were rejected from their country in, for example, Trinidadians. Trinidad closed their borders and didn’t even let their nationals in and Barbados accepted them. Barbados also took in a cruise ship that wasn’t docked in days. Even when I left Kuwait Friday morning the borders were not closed. So for her to say that they have been closed for a week “haven’t I been checking the news” was frustrating. I don’t think she realized that I just got off a 12-hour flight. On top of that, she claimed she was from Barbados and there hasn’t been a flight to Barbados in weeks. Apparently, she didn’t really know what she was talking about because her coworker informed her that not only were the borders not closed, but flights have been leaving from JFK to Barbados on Saturday mornings only. I was really annoyed by this situation.

The helpful agent (not the extra one) informed me that there were flights leaving American Airlines. So I wanted to take my chances with them instead of booking a next day flight with JetBlue and risk being at the airport. Even after all the inconvenience and frustration, I kept hope alive and decided to take my chances again. I did not want to end up at JFK for almost 24 hours. To get to American Airlines I had to take the airport shuttle to a different terminal. I was being proactive when I got my bags from baggage claim because I knew the four wheels on my big bag were janky. I had already wrestled with it to get it from my room to the hallway and I wasn’t going to let $6.00 (the cost of a trolley) stop me from helping myself out. Fighting with a bag more than half my size, forcing it to cooperate would have not been a good look. I paid so much money that day that I usually wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. American Airlines had a connecting flight that was leaving in 2 hours to D.C. so I took it. I had to pay all the fees. I paid about $100 more than the fight usually cost, plus $35 service fee since I was buying at the counter, plus bag fees, and a heavy bag fee. I tried my best to get rid of stuff so I would have a heavy bag, but it was hard. I only had two bags and the main reason why I chose to travel with two bags is because I knew I would have a connecting flight in America with all their baggage fees. Middle Eastern airlines give you two bags free from the start. I did my best to be as proactive as I could be, even with my attitude. I made an agreement with myself before I left Kuwait that things would be inconvenient, but I had to roll with it.

One positive situation that happened was when I left Kuwait they waived the heavy bag fee. Even with that I still had to get rid of stuff because the max weight was 32 kilos and my bag was 36 kilos. I quickly took out the heavy things parting ways with some of my favorite pieces. I expected this so this situation didn’t frustrate me. The airport workers in Kuwait were like put it in your carry on or small bag, but little did they know all my bags were already packed to the max! One thing I could have done that I didn’t realize it until I got to my mom’s house in Maryland was to take out my luggage cube. The luggage cube is like a bag itself so that could have been my carryon and that would have let up some weight. However,  I’m 4’9 and most of the time I can not reach the overhead bin. I can put my things in just fine, but sometimes I need help to take things out. Maybe I’m too independent, but I don’t like to rely on strangers to help me. Plus coronavirus.

Leaving Kuwait was a whole situation. From the naysayers telling me it is safer in Kuwait, to all of the inconvenience I faced. Despite all of this I learned an important lesson about how I think and carry myself. I just started rereading The Four Agreements and I’m on the second agreement which is “do not take things personally”. I take things too personally and let negativity fester too long. This situation is teaching me to let things go. Three weeks ago I thought I was going to be stuck alone in my Kuwait apartment indefinitely. That indefinitely really got to me. The fear of the unknown and not being able to do anything about it got to me. After all the negativity, I realized that I am frustrating myself. I am frustrating myself because I expect people to act like me. Most of the unexpected situations I experienced I went with it and didn’t let it bother me. I knew things were going to be unexpected and inconvenient at the airport, but that agent really rubbed me the wrong way. However, the agent didn’t frustrate me, it was my expectation of how she should respond that frustrated me. Later, I thought to myself that she was probably scared out of her mind having to work during this crisis. She is probably thankful that she is not getting laid off, but scared. If I can let things go so easily during a pandemic, then I can do the same when things get back to normal. I am all about being assertive and standing up for yourself and I am also learning that I have to let small things go. When someone does or says something it never is personal. If I take it personally than their problem becomes my problem. There is already enough going on in the world today I don’t need any more problems.

No situation will ever be perfect and life comes with inconveniences. Everything does not have to be a fight. Even when I was proactive and had low exceptions things still went unexpectedly. When I was younger I use to choose cheaper versus inconvenience. Now, I don’t mind paying for convenience as long as it is practical. I would rather be pleasant and easy-going than frustrated and annoyed. I can cut down my frustration by 70% by not taking things personally. I am going to be constantly faced with annoyances, but it is how I respond to it that will help me keep my peace.

Do you feel like your in a dream? Comment below somethings you are grateful for to help keep us grounded.

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