For me, it’s been easy to collapse all my identity crises and the difficulties of growing up into one big question, with existential and practical implications- should I stay in France or should I go? Should I go, elsewhere in Europe, or in the world? Or should I just go home.
Bon Jovi would understand- just a hometown boy, born a rollin stone.
It does seem like people become more into country music as they age. The other day I actually turned on the country music internet radio when I was at work, instead of the Disney music and early 90s esque stuff I usually listen to. And Walk Off the Earth, which “the boy” introduced me to.
Some facts will remain whether I stay or go.
1) The time will pass anyway. I will be 27 next year.
2) I want to build my career and have a more interesting job- and yet, I recognize that my job is not going to be my only or main source of fulfillment.
3) I want to be in a more serious relationship- definitely if I go home, that will be a major source of motivation- the ease of meeting people with similar values. yet, if I stay here, that’s a value too. I have been in dead-end situations and just flirtations for a while now, and it has suited me to be single during this self discovery chapter of my life. But I’m beginning to really want a boyfriend who I could see at my side indefinitely- and that will mean he has to love traveling too-but being in a relationship will bring constraints. Instead of doing everything for my personal growth and my impulses, I will have to consider someone else, and though I may try my best to find someone who wants to jet-set between America, France, and locations yet unknown, I have to face the fact that the balance will shift in favor of one or the other (it would happen anyway but it will be influenced by my choice of significant other) and deal with those consequences.
4) Whatever I choose is not forever, and I could pick up and leave at any time. Life is crazy– and yet, we define it by our choices. If I choose to stay in France, it won’t be because I wholeheartedly agree with everything French- and if I go it won’t be an uncritical endorsement of America- but I’m going to have to live with the consequences of my decision. For my career and my honor, it’s best to look at whatever comes next as likely to be a solid 18 month stretch at least. Can always change your mind, but it’s best to start out at least thinnking that that’s about what it’s likely to be.
5) Whether we like it or not, life hardens into identities- the traveler, the businesswoman, the writer-no matter how contradictory they may seem. But life also has a way of forcing you to give up your identity and become something else. That is what life is all about- we grow from baby to toddler to child to tweenager to teen to college student to “emergerging adult,” finally to adult, and maybe mother or father, and then we become middle aged, hopefully robust seniors, and eventually we die. To push the freeze button on any of these stages is to deny life and growth. The only way to be forever young and growing is to affirm life in all its wonder, from beginning to end. If you hang on to a stage, you really are missing out on what life has in store for you at a different time. Right now I’m happy to go out for drinks, totally carefree, and wake up whenever I want to in the morning, but people who have young children, while they may wax nostalgic, probably wouldn’t give up their kids to go back to partying. And the irony is that for me, going out can become pretty stale, and I am hoping to meet that person I will want to give up partying for, who will get up early with our little kids. Maybe I feel too much angst over it, like a teenager who believes their destiny hinges on an sat score or another big test, to get into the right college, pick the right major, and all th rest of it, but even after having lived through the competitiveness and perectionism of the ambitious teen years and come to a frankly less ambitious country and more of a rolling stone way of life, I still do think that preparation and good choices are important. It’s never all or nothing.
The other thing is not everyone is going to hit the same stages or hit them in the same way. FOr some people, quitting their job and traveling the world is the most mature choice they will ever make. FOr others, stability may never look like a corporate job and might mean accepting that you prefer the artist’s garret or a startup incubator. Know thyself.
And as for those choices, they lead you to some pretty unexpected places. Right now I’m tempted (or pulled, not sure) to go back to where I started.
6) There are no guarantees.
7) It’s what we do after the decision that makes it a good or bad one. The main thing is, keep on living. Don’t turn back.
Wherever you go, there you are.