The past 5 years have been insane and amazing for me. I moved to France for the first time as an English teacher, got my international MBA, saw the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, fell into a pit of depression and loss of (self) control, moved back to France, started my job, hated it at first, and now love my life here to the point where I never want to leave and the idea of buying an apartment really makes me feel excited even though I am not sure if it is the right thing for me right now. There have been men too that have passed into and out of my life- I lost a very good friend over my disagreement over certain Black Lives Matter tactics though I more than agree that police violence is often though not always unwarranted and criminal, the man who I believed was the one who I believed shared my values and sense of humor is completely disconnected, I live in an apartment that used to house a friend (with benefits) whom I met on Tinder and whose mother I now consider like a part of my family, and my idea of Mr Right never ceases to evolve, nor have I yet caught up with him. My weight has gone up, to my great chagrin though less and less to my shame; I no longer feel like I owe the world a perfect body in order to be loved and I would never again date a guy who makes me feel ashamed for eating both halves of my chicken caesar wrap like my high school boyfriend did. Maybe I didn’t need to be eating both halves of the large wrap, but that’s besides the point. I went from going to Church nearly every Sunday and sinning a lot without believing everything is a sin to not having attended a full mass since Ash Wednesday and believing more in God’s goodness but less in the institutional Church. I went from wanting to save the world and have some sort of policy job which would touch the lives of millions to being content with my 10-6 for a very large company where I feel valued, think we’re not doing anything too evil, and which has made me realize companies don’t have to be single mindedly pursuing profits or amoral. I still want to launch that travel blog, I think, maybe, but I’m not looking to escape from the corporate world into academia or non profit work realizing it’s the same shit everywhere and I am really happy where I work. I’m 27 years old and have visited 29 countries and 4 continents. I am also about 90 thousand dollars in debt all told. I have a permanent contract and junior executive position in one of the world’s largest and most respected companies and more than 40 days of paid vacation. Life is pretty good. At this moment, I never want to leave Paris. I have also gone from loving and revering my family and the American dream and believing my sojourn in France was a question of immaturity and wanderlust and I would eventually mature and realize that Uncle Sam knows best and come back to marry Captain America but now I want to stay at least until I can get French citizenship, and then maybe “escape” to a new country with higher wages and lower taxes for a while but always come back here. I know in both my heart and my mind that I am really doing amazing, more than ok, and even though I watch my friends get married, buy houses, pay off debt, and have babies, those things will come for me in time too. I believed that getting married and having a family was the most important thing to me and if you had asked me five years ago, I would have said I’d hoped to be engaged or married right now, maybe in a PhD program or just finishing one up. But in the meantime, I find myself thinking that the MBA/JD that I met in undergrad who said, “Don’t get married till you’re 30,” was perfectly right and there may still be some short term romantic adventures in my future and there’s no need to panic that I haven’t found my white picket fence fantasy home just yet. While it seem like my bottom line is in the negative and my top line is not high enough compared to peers abroad- yet, I do believe that my investment in myself will pay off, and is paying off, in a life I truly love that feels authentic to me. So in that sense I do believe I have already won the lottery about a hundred times over. When I look around, there’s no one that I envy, there’s no one I would trade lives yet but I will continue to hustle, continue to be vulnerable, continue to be intentional and yet let destiny lend a hand.
Forgive me for those who already know this parable:
A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American casually asked.
“Oh, a few hours,” the Mexican fisherman replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American businessman then asked.
The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”
The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”
The American businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”
Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”
Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”
After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”
“And then what, señor?” asked the fisherman.
“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young fisherman in disbelief.
The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”
I am both the MBA and the fisherman, and at times it tears me apart. Because while it might seem the Mexican fisherman has it all figured out, the chase is also worth something if it builds you up instead of depleting you, and with those million you can help the world and give your grandchildren the chance to sit on their asses when American MBAs industrialize the fishing industry and the only work that’s left is 12 hour shifts in a cannery. And maybe there’s some pride and joy that comes from conquering the world though it might not really be worth it.
I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
Maybe this year, I’ll become the fisherman.
It feels like with all the debt and POTENTIAL I have, I can’t afford to be the fisherman. It also shows the degree to which I’ve been conditioned to think of only stressful, extremely high paid and long hours jobs as work given that while I do have a really great schedule most of the time, I do have a real job and I already am an American MBA, 45 vacation days not withstanding.
I had a really seriously fisherman like job as an English teacher before, and damn, I was bored, so I became an American MBA. Now I am happy though and look forward to the new challenges my career will bring me. In any event, fisherman or MBA, change is the only constant.
I’m already living the life that I want. Anything else is escape but then there’s change. As my American MBA, serial entrepreneur, PhD in progress, long time resident of Paris, and now educational administrator told me, “stability is an illusion.”
So here I am.
It feels like the next great turning point is whether to buy an apartment or not in Paris. If I did, there would only be room for me and I’d have to hold on to the property for at least 5 years. I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t do it.
But yes, I want to own a piece of Paris, but then, maybe I don’t need to.
Maybe I just need to stay, and let my life be more simple.
And leave room for more grand adventures, by not tying myself down just yet with a mortgage.
I am aching, yearning for stability, but I think that amidst all this loss of control, what my heart really wants is to know that I will choose happiness over success, although it’s a false choice.
The last time I left Paris, I fell into a depression. When I came back to Paris, it still took me a solid year and half to two years to begin to feel ok again. Now I finally feel like my normal but improved, matured, and also more joyful self who gives muchless of a shit about what other people think an dis slowing letting go of perfection.
I do hope that I will attract greater abundance in my life by appreciating what I already have.
Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It just means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections- https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/8084815/posts/965393138
Long rambly Montaigne-esque sort of blog post, why havne’t I started a professional blog yet-because I am too busy living and relaxing from my exciting life that’s a novel in itself- conclusion-
La vie n’a pas besoin d’un but, elle est un but elle- meme.
Life doesn’t need a purpose, it is a purpose in itself.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
― Alan W. Watts
Namaste to all the brave souls who have read this far!