“Good, for the most part. It feels nice to be back in the sense that I feel like I still have a lot that I need to accomplish here, but I also feel like I’m having a slight existential crisis. like I feel like my life here isn’t real, like it’s just this bubble of a life that I live floating about away from the real world.” These were my exact words when a friend asked me how it felt to be back in Paris and jet lag was kicking my ass, (It’s still kicking my ass.) so 2am thoughts became real, real quick.
I also had someone ask me the following question while I was home in the States: “If you absolutely had to choose right now between living in the United States and living in Europe permanently forever, which would you choose? If money wasn’t an issue?” I cannot properly express to you the amount of anxiety that I experienced because of this question. Even though I said Europe, the truth is, I have no fucking clue. I really, truly don’t.
And this often happens. I’m almost 26 years old, and this whole going back and forth thing is starting to get old. Yes, I do feel a need, a sense of wanting to settle down soon, or at least to call a place home more permanently than what I’ve got going on right now. However, to tell you the absolute truth, the idea of that, even though I deeply want that on some level, is that it scares the shit out of me. It’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child or an avid bookworm to choose their favorite book. Do I only have to choose one?
I’m almost 26 years old (3 months from tomorrow, January 10th). I should have this figured out by now, right? right? (She asks staring anxiously and awkwardly around the room, with a pained smile on her face).
The truth is that I have fallen in love with both my home country and with France. There are good things, and there are bad things about both. If I had it my way, I would combine the two cultures and make that my home, but obviously, scientifically, practically, and real wordly speaking, that’s not possible. So, what do I do?
Let’s not even forget though that living in places such as Iceland, Mexico, Scotland, and Quebec have all crossed my mind. I can see myself living in those places, at least temporarily, equally as I see myself living in the United States and in France.
The more that I learn about this world, the more that it intrigues me, the more that I want to explore it, the more that I fall in love with it, the more that I find places that I could see myself living in, and thus the cycle continues.
Yes, I’ve already decided that Paris is not for me, for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s too big. Yes, I love city life, but Paris is too big. I feel like a stranger (and yes, I realize that’s because I’ve only lived here for like 3 and a half months), but it just feels so big. I feel like I’m a very, very tiny fish in a very large, oversized pond. It’s also very expensive to live here on an everyday basis, let alone to have a social life (Thankfully, because of where I live, I’ve been able to hack a pretty decently priced life, but social outings are a luxury not a given). Plus, though this is one of the things I love about Paris, it’s also one of it’s downfalls: it’s highly transitional and highly international. People are always coming in and out from all over. This is amazing. I feel like I’ve met people from all over. However, on the other side of that coin is that it makes me feel like I can never be truly settled, even if I did want to live here more permanently, even if I did adapt a more permanent social circle.
However, I’ve accepted Paris, and it has rubbed off on me. This is my home for now, and coming back from doing the holidays in the States, it felt like coming home, in a weird way.
I know that I will call Milwaukee home for at least another year after this year in Paris. So, yes, that’s settled, but I cannot count on my hands the amount of times that people have asked me what I’m going to do after school.
I don’t know. I really don’t know. I have ideas. I have goals, but the last time I really planned out my life to a T, it involved my almost engagement blowing up in my face and my almost fiancé getting married to his ex-girlfriend with the ring he bought for me (harsh truths. I’m over it. That was 3 and a half years ago, but the scar remains), and I vowed to never plan my life so strictly again.
So, no I don’t know where I’m going to be after school. I know what my career goals are, and I know what I want in my life. However, the truth is, I have no idea how any of that is going to play out.
I don’t know where I’m going to live permanently, and frankly, yeah, I may almost be 26 years old, but why limit myself if I have no attachments (aside from my kitty cat? Who I vowed to absolutely 100% take with me the next time that I move to a different city not in the States).
I’m tired of people putting us young around-that-age-to-be-thinking-about-marriage-and-settling-down women in a box (well, at least they do where I’m from). No, I’m not married, nor am I even close. I’m single as fuck and absolutely loving it (Yes, like any normal human I do still get lonely sometimes and crave a relationship, but I’m learning the values of singlehood). No, I have no idea what job I will have when I get my Masters, and no, I don’t know where I’m going to settle down. Frankly, yes, it kind of gives me anxiety, because no, I’m not ready to choose, mostly because I feel strongly that I’m not yet done exploring. So, no, I have no idea what is going to happen, and that’s the best freaking part.
I do feel like I’m not done here yet, but I also feel like I’m meant to keep exploring to some extent. Yes, societal pressures tend to get to me from time to time (hence the slight existential crisis mentioned earlier), but I am actually extremely okay with this. For the first time in my life, I’m okay with not being in control 100%, of not having a fucking clue. In fact, it’s actually really exciting. The possibilities feel absolutely endless, and I feel empowered by this.
So, maybe society wants to put me in a box, have expectations for me, and keep asking me those damn questions (where are you going to settle down? Find anyone interesting to date lately? Where do you plan to apply for a job when you are done with school?) I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. And I am very happy to not know. I’m actually extremely happy and content with not knowing. So, please, listen to me when I say that I’m okay, that I don’t know, and that I’m okay with not knowing (for the most part).
My mother has always said that I dance to the beat of my own drum, and damn, she was so right and will continue being right because my drum is still beating this unique beat of mine. And, yes, I will probably still have moments of existential crises when I feel the pains of societal pressures and expectations. I’ll just keep dancing through the pain though, because this dance is bringing more joy than the pain those moments could ever bring me.