Five years and one day ago, I moved to Philadelphia to begin business school. I had been interning in DC, and I envisioned having a career that touched on public service or at least public affairs. I had met a man that I thought would be the love of my life, who would fit into my family, religion, sense of humor, even though inconveniently he hadn’t wanted to pursue a long distance relationship and showed some signs of bro-iness I didn’t love.
I remember moving into the apartment hotel where I would stay for six weeks before moving again to Paris, where I would study for four months before returning. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the much greater work experience of everyone there, and the stark contrast between my life as an English teaching assistant in the French countryside and an intern paid just a bit more than my rent, and my experience-seeking, idealistic, slightly do gooder self compared to the seemingly cold nad corporate world I was about to enter, which had never held a lot of interest for me. And yet, my greatest mentor had suggested to me to come to business school, I applied to programs with a connection to France, and was accepted with a large scholarship. I was the second youngest and the least experienced of anyone in my group, and I had never held a full time permanent professional job, but perhaps I was also the bravest and most open.
A few weeks into the program at Philly, just before going to France, there was a cocktail party, as is often the case in business school, and we talked about where we would end up after. I said Washington DC was my home, I had never felt better anywhere, and I had a strong conviction I would return to live the life I’d planned and this was just a last taste of France before becoming a real adult.
Within a month of uttering those words, I was deeply in love with Paris, despite having visited it several times before without forming any great attachment. I felt truly at home and like I belonged for the first time in my life, and I nearly left the program to stay there and just get a French degree. I didn’t take that leap of faith, and was plunged into a crisis of whether I had completely abandoned my ideals, and what those ideals were, as I found myself in America feeling like a misfit more than I ever had before, going to school with people who did not see the world in at all the same way as i did, which made me fear for finding my professional path through business.
About a year later, I returned to DC and it was just a ghost of the city I had left, feeling both provincial yet oddly particular in its obsession with politics, which I at that point realised are not the center of the world for the vast majority of its citizens. I got a job offer in NYC to work for a think tank dedicated to studying corporate responsibility and globalization, but I turned it down, because I wanted to continue the search for something to bring me to Paris.
I was willing to take anything, even another crappy English teacher job.
Out of nowhere, an offer to work with a blue chip French company came along, and I took it. It took six months to get the visa and I seriously considered abandoning the offer.
But I wasn’t happy. I thought of leaving. All my friends had gone and I never saw the boyfriend I had during study abroad. My best American friend seemed like a bit of a lost soul, and I continued to wonder if something was wrong with me for wanting to live outside of where I was supposed to, for rejecting my country and abandoning my family, and not being the person I planned on being. My mom made it really clear she was not a fan of the move, although she supported me, and I lost yet another cherished role- dutiful daughter.
It took me a long, long time to finally come back to the surface, and I”m almost there now. Depression is no joke. Therapy is the best investment I’ve ever made. And through it all, I’ve struggled to be my best self, because I wasn’t sure of who that was or if I was truly the second string player I believed myself to be.
In short, I’ve been afraid of my greatness, and it hasn’t been pretty. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. Depression has colored many memories that had all the elements to be beautiful and enjoyable at the time. And yet, it was my human experience.
The feeling of losing my ground as Buddhists say really affected me. I am not the person I planned to be, and my greatest fear has been the changeable nature of myself and my desires, and the fear that everything I worked for was in vain.
This journey has taken me a long way and will take me farther yet. On Friday I’m going back to India, which was one of my dream destinations that I really enjoyed during business school. I am going in large part to decide whether I want to commit to the path of Buddhism.
Something of my Catholic self remains, and the Sermon on the Mount is engraved upon my soul, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. And yet, I don’t know if I can pretend to go along with the Catholic hierarchy anymore, and to what extent i want to remain culturally Catholic. Can resurrection and reincarnation cohabit? I don’t know, although I can say I’m pretty sure my beef is not with Jesus.
In the meantime, I’ve come a long way from sub clinical anorexia/compulsive dieting as a teenager to binge eating as an adult to CrossFitter, sometimes with or without the overeating, binge eating, and emotional eating issues. But now, I am an athlete, that’s for sure, and i want to be healthy, I want things for my own good.
Through all this, I have pondered every road not taken, and tortured myself with what ifs. If I had become a teacher, if I had stayed in the US, if I had become a digital nomad blogger person, anything and everything. It’s just this week I put the digital nomad dream to rest. I want to travel, but I also want to build a home in France, and my current job allows me to do that. And that’s why I haven’t taken any real steps in that direction, despite a bit of talk. Yes, I would like to hav ea travel blog and all, but it doesn’t have to replace my daily life. I don’t see it with rose colored glasses anymore. Same with taking a long pause from work. It could change something, but I dont’ think th echange I need is so dramatic.
The change I need is just to take care of myself, eat well, sleep well, work well, have friends, have lovers, and hopefully find my one steady boy someday. And continue to travel! Just keep grinding and moving and dancing to the beat of my drummer, who did not indeed lead me astray.
so today I have to clean my apartment, wash clothes, and get ready for India. I have to breka through the mess I’ve creaed because I couldn’t deal with the pain from all the unfounded regrests and all the fears.
Throughout it all, I have to say my desire to find love has not wavered. And my faith is slowly coming back.
For the past few years, I have felt a victim of change, and my shifting desires.
But now I know, I am the one writing the story- not in charge of everything that happens to or for me, and many thngs are out of my control. But I wrote this story, and I do have the life I want most of the time. It’s not radical change, just a shift in perspective that is needed. There’s no where I would rather be…
And so dear readers, wish me luck !