It’s October again. One of my favorite months to welcome in my favorite season of the year. And despite the lack of pumpkin patches here in Athens, which the inner kid in me is quietly grieving, I’m bringing this glorified pumpkin season in with a pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks.
Though I rarely come here anymore, I felt it was a necessary cause to drop in again.
This month also marks a move Alex and I have been waiting and waiting and WAITING to be able to know for sure would happen. You may have seen my reference to “our next step” in previous posts or talked to me personally and already know what step we’ve fought to make happen over the last year is…
And now, we can finally announce that our visas are approved and we ARE MOVING TO AUSTRALIA!
Our enthusiasm can’t be sufficiently expressed; transitioning into a new phase of life individually, in our relationship, in a place with the opportunities and resources to keep up with our great evolving ambitions, its open territories of possibilities for two twenty-somethings still growing up in each of their own ways.
It has been a while since I’ve felt this young, optimistic, energy. Where the future has this glow to it… like anything can happen. Absolutely anything. It’s an infusion of invigoration and jitters. But those good kinds of jitters… like when you were a kid about to rip open your biggest Christmas box.
You had no idea what it was. But you knew it was going to be good.
The love of constantly being in the transition…you can see this tendency throughout the course of my life. It’s this “grey” quality I’ve been both criticized and praised for. Growing up in a family that couldn’t sit still anywhere longer than three years I guess is why living a life with so much shifting around has felt more like home than staying any one place.
It’s ironic because it’s the same trait I’ve made fun of my parents for as an ever irritated teenager. And yet I inherited their restlessness more than any other of my more stable siblings.
I remember this talk I had with a yoga teacher and mentor of mine when I was seventeen. I was nervously trying to communicate to her that I no longer wanted to work as her assistant. I only wanted to teach classes (I was working on getting my yoga instructor certification at the time). Though when I had met her at 15 years old, I had told her big words about my big plans to be her “right-hand man for the studio”.
My plans, however, were on constant shift. Especially when I was that young.
She got frustrated because she had started to make plans around my promises. And now that I was reaching the point of more responsibility… I was ready to move onto my next idea.
“First you were always talking about being so ready to graduate from high school, be my full-time assistant and be out of that cheer squad you were so miserable in. Now you’re out and you only want to be a full-time teacher?”
A year later the conversation continued.
“Now you don’t want to be a full-time teacher, you want to go to art school. Then you don’t want to go to art school… you want to be an actress”.
I can see her looking at me now.
“So you dropped out of university to go to LA… but now you want to travel. So you changed your plans from moving to LA to finding yourself in the world and moved to Greece because you fell in love and thought going back to school for graphic design will allow you to live artistically while being flexible enough to support your ever changing life plans.
Then you switch your degree to writing. Because well… it’s one of the only things that has been consistent for you. No matter how low, how dark, how confusing life becomes… you can always write about it. You can write about anything. You’re good at it.”
Maybe she had some sort of a point. Maybe all this restless behavior is a result of some anxiety. Maybe not. Regardless, I cringe writing this. I always really struggled with criticism. But it’s my story. With every change of plan, came a new season, with new experiences came lessons I needed to learn, even if it inflicted a lot of pain or discomfort it made me aware of a need for growth. Which is something painful circumstances tend to make apparent—your flaws. But these circumstances have time and time again taken me from point A to B and back to myself again… right where I needed to be.
At least this is what I’m trying to tell myself.
This idea that life will always lead you exactly where you need to be is something I’m trying to learn to trust. It gives me peace to think that my life isn’t at my own mercy sometimes.
Reflecting on Athens…
Which makes me want to reflect back for the last time (before this blog transitions into an entirely new focus) on my last big life transition…
My move to Athens.
If you’ve read my Being an Expat: Misconception #3 post you remember how scattered my emotions were before I left “like a balloon that had just had the air let out”; though because my ego wanted to be invincible to any anxiety, I tried to put on my bravest face to prove that for me at least, moving to the other side of the world was a cakewalk.
I don’t know how convincing I actually was. Trying to hide emotion for me works as well as trying to hide a row of tequila shots. The buried emotions slur their way through every word I say. Though despite my jitters I knew that, “Yep. Whether this is the worst or the best move of my life I’m going. Dammit.”
And then Alex was there. A man, even after a mere few months of face to face connection, I was willing to chance it all for. I adored him. How could I not go…
Plans had not gone exactly how I hoped. Although, I knew exactly what I was getting into moving here with both the struggles of being a first-time expat and living in the midst of an economic crisis. Alex was very open about the realities of living in Greece vs soaking up its highlights while on vacation. I talk about it quite a bit in my Being an Expat: Misconception #2 post.
But being a full-blown optimistic, overachiever—I envisioned myself being the girl to “make it happen anyways”. I would make myself a successful English teacher, which in addition to my savings, would help pay my way through University, become a super talented graphic designer, learn Greek fluently in a few months, make a ton of friends, become an expert of the city, blog the greatest underground places, and live this ideal life.
Realistically, this all did not happen.
I couldn’t hold a student with my English tutoring, nor did I ever end up finding another consistent job. Though I’ve learned quite a bit of the language… I still struggle with basic conversational Greek (being fluent in one of the three hardest languages in the world in a few months time… who was I kidding?) and would sometimes come home in tears of frustration because I didn’t understand 80% from a night out with friends. And although I did meet many people, I didn’t create that close circle I wanted so badly. I had a few friends scattered here and there I would grab coffee with once and a while. But in general, I was very lonely.
As far as becoming a graphic designer… I didn’t continue with that path. Surprise, surprise. In fact, after I took this blogging class about eight months ago (which is what initially started this travel blog) I switched career goals altogether to becoming a writer. And life proves it’s irony again since journalism is what I initially declared as my major as a freshman.
Again, coming right back to where I needed to be I guess.
Regardless, it was my first ballsy jump across the ocean to take on life in a new place where the language and culture is entirely different from my own.
And I DID IT. For an entire year. I’ve seen some beautiful places here: from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, to the rock formations of Meteora in the mainland, to the southernmost point of the Mediterranean in Crete. It’s grown me up in ways I don’t think I’ve consciously realized yet. Though Alex regularly mentions how much I’ve changed since he met that bubbly, barely 21-year-old kid making her trek alone through Europe, trying to find who she was.
Though there is still so much I have to heal from; insecurities and flaws I desperately want to learn to leave behind (or maybe even learn to embrace), things I need to trust myself more with, and learn to grow in—it is because of Athens I am a step forward in becoming a more whole human being. I’ve spent some of the greatest and hardest days of my life here. And with these experiences, Athens has left an indelible mark in my life.
And I am forever grateful for it.