“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild
These words struck a very deep core in me. I recognize I’m a little behind in the whole reading and obsessing over Wild. However, it’s been on my list for quite some time, and I thought starting a new adventure was the appropriate time to start to read it.
An adventure these last two days have certainly been. First of all, it’s 1am, and I feel the farthest thing from tired, even though I swallowed four Valerian Root pills, which for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a natural herb used to promote calmness and tranquility. For me, it helps me sleep considerably. It’s even better than Melatonin for me, which makes me feel rather drowsy in the morning.
But no, no luck getting my brain to shut off. So, why not use my awake brain to finally write this blog post that I’ve been meaning to get to?
Anyways, back to the quote. To be truthful here, though this is my third time living in France and though I have an amazing adventure ahead of me, I must tell you that it has taken me up til now to really warm up to the idea. About a year and 4 months ago I was returning home from my second time living in France, about to head off to graduate school in the Fall, and eager to head off on another adventure. However, this time around, I don’t know if it was the difficulties that I experienced this past year or the slow realization of my age and my slight subconscious need to start settling down and forming a life for myself somewhere, or both, but this move, this time, for some reason was not easy for me. The last two times I jetted off to France, I couldn’t wait to leave, making packing lists and doing everything way in advance. This time, it was like I was dreading it. Everything seemed to become a chore. Everything seemed (and was to some degree) way less smooth.
I think somewhere along the way in this past year, I, for some reason or another, (maybe it was my anxiety and depression, both of which have been greatly alleviated thanks to counseling and an active determination to live a life free of both of those things), made me fear living. It’s not that I ever wanted to die, but I somewhere along the road became afraid of living, which was so strange to me, because I’ve been such an independent, go-getter type. Even when I didn’t think I could do something, I kept at it, cursing the entire way, of course, but did it I did nonetheless. However, I had become as Cheryl Strayed puts it “diverged, digressed, wandered, and…wild.”
So, why had I become so afraid this past year? And what exactly was I afraid of? I know that I’m afraid of failure. I’m working on it. But that’s nothing new. So what else was it? Was I afraid that if I kept uprooting and leaving that I would never really find a place to call home? Would I ever really be able to have true lasting relationships, with friends and otherwise? Would I ever be truly successful? Being able to have a career I love, eventually getting to have a life where I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck and pretending that my debt doesn’t exist? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.
But here I am nonetheless.
Why, you might ask. Why would I do something that I wasn’t 100% enthusiastic about? Why would I move my life again if I was grumbling about it all the way up to the point that I did finally leave?
Well, my friends, because as this quote says, I’m choosing to tell myself a different story.
I know that I didn’t need to move all the way to Paris to choose to tell myself a different story. No, I know that, but it does help. It helps in that I get a breath of fresh air. I get a chance to truly test myself, to put myself out there, to start from scratch. The last time i moved to France, I had a considerable amount of help. This time, I have some help, but I’m mostly in a sink or swim kind of situation. Until I truly start to get settled here, get established in an apartment and in my job, and start to make some friends here, I can’t let my fear control me because it really is about survival right now. I have to find an apartment. I have to open a bank account. I have to do the things and give the things so I can get paid and survive. Then once I get settled with all of that, my survival will turn to dealing with culture shock and speaking my second language (which yes, I consider my second language, but a language that I still make mistakes in and continue to learn) and building relationships with new friends and colleagues. And even though all of that scares me, now that I’m here, I’m ready to tackle with full force.
For example, I spent all of today walking around Paris and taking the metro by myself, because why not? I got myself from Indianapolis to my Airbnb all by myself with no troubles. (Though one of my suitcases did get stuck in the door as I was entering the platforms for the metro from the airport and the guy behind me had to help me keep the door open so that I could get my suitcase through. Seriously, Lindsey?! Not even an hour into Paris, and you are already making a fool of yourself. *facepalm* Honestly though, the whole situation kind of made me giggle, especially because I was only running on 3 hours of really shitty airplane sleep. Everything is more hilarious when you’re tired.)
Anyways, I did all that, and it makes me wonder why I’m so keen to doubt myself at times? I’m working on that, but what all of this did make me understand is that my independent, go-getter self is still here. She just went through some stuff for awhile, and now, I’m determined to thrive. I’m determined to not let my fear control me anymore. I’m determined to flourish. I’m determined to rock this year.
Of course, there’s also the more logical and practical reasons I decided to go through with this: 1) it brings me back to the country I consider my second home, 2) It’s an amazing opportunity to teach English to University students, which is exactly the field that I’m interested in (well, very close to it), 3) Studying abroad again will give me the opportunity to continue to hone my French skills, and 4) 12 weeks paid vacation, because let’s be real, I have constant travel envy.
These last few weeks have been a whirl wind and the next few will continue to be so.
From moving out of my Milwaukee apartment (and getting all of my crap back to Indiana), to the delay of my visa (requiring me to re-book my flights twice resulting in a loss of $600 in flights. Ouch. C’est la vie, though I guess), setting up a foster family for my kitty baby (and making arrangements for him to get there since I was leaving before the family could take him), making arrangements for the storage of my car, and making sure that I actually got my ass through my travels and to Paris with the least amount of awkward and stressful moments. Yes, these past few weeks have indeed been overwhelming and stressful. *whew* But, *sigh* good news. I made it. Obviously.
So, here I am, sitting in my Airbnb (still on the apartment hunt), and wishing to goodness that jet lag doesn’t last very long and thinking that now that I’m here, I really feel exponentially more positive and exponentially more blessed. So, here’s what I have to say.
Hey Paris girl, wanna be friends?