Waiting for that net to appear…
How do you ever really know it’s time to leave a place? They tell you to make lists. Those people who supposedly know about things like this. Two columns. Pros and cons. Laid out like that it all ought to be so simple. But how could I weigh the embrace of a friend I’m close enough with to exchange I love yous with like family against the lure of the unknown? Is the feeling I get looking at the haze baffled alps in the distance on my morning commute worth more than the nagging feeling that I’m not growing professionally anymore? Is knowing in my heart of hearts that I don’t belong here in the long-term more compelling than the fact that this place is home now? Speaking of home, what the hell is that? Is it a feeling? Is it certain people? Is it inside me? It sure as hell doesn’t feel like a geographical place anymore.
What happens when you dare to love as an expat? Read all about my experience here.
And why do I need to make everything so complicated? I’m happy here. I am. Happy. Here. More deeply than I ever have been in my adult life. I’ve never been more comfortable with myself. I’m surrounded by people that love me, fart jokes and all. I live in one of the most beautiful and safest places on planet earth, and have I told you lately how much fun my job is? Is this really the person I am now? The person who picks a new place every few years, falls in love with being there, puts down roots, and then just rips them back up again and moves on for shits ang giggles? For adventure? Because um, who knows? Something bigger and better could be out there?
Speaking of, why am I always looking for bigger and better? Why do I constantly feel like I need to be searching for the next upgrade? After all, life’s not an iPhone. There’s no such thing as an ideal life. No matter where I live, my life will be populated with things I love desperately and things that make me feel ill. It will be messy and imperfect. It will always be a work in progress. So why change things? Why not keep living this beautiful mess in Switzerland?
Expat life isn’t one big Instagram party. What happens when you’re confronted by your fears in a foreign country? Read about my experience here.
Well, it turns out, there’s plenty of reasons why not. For me, Switzerland has always been like that really good looking, clean cut guy I happen to be dating. He’s polite, he always returns my phonecalls, he has a good job, my mom likes him, but try as I might, I just can’t fall in love with him. I’ve done everything to try to get more into living here. I’ve gotten into wintersport. I’ve figured out what to do when everything’s closed on Sundays. I’ve discovered which off the grid artist squats host really kick ass punk gigs. But try as I might, Switzerland is still a straightlaced tax attourney, and I’m still a freaky-deaky arts teacher who wears love beads. He doesn’t want to loosen up, I don’t want to become more straight. It would be unfair to ask either of us to change who we are. And so sue me if I feel like life is too short to settle for somebody I’m not in love with, even if he does help me with my taxes?
Also, I’ve realized once again, that when faced with a chance to grow and be challenged versus a chance to be realtively happy resting on my laurels, I’ll choose growth every single time. It’s who I am. When I look at it honestly, there’s not much more growing I can do here. I’ve grown into somebody who appreciates fresh air, exercise and obsessively organizing her recycling, but I haven’t grown in the directions I’m really keen to grow in. Chiefly, I miss being involved in a really vibrant arts scene. I miss hanging out with poets, playwrights and musicians… you know, people who make something other than money. Professionally, I’m ready to press on and try new things too. In the end, it actually came down to an old teaching adage, kill it while it’s still fun. Sure, I could enjoy coasting in Switzerland for a few more years, but I’d rather leave on a high note, feeling grattitude for the experience I’ve had here, than feeling bored, frustrated and checked out.
In the end, a pro and con list can only get you so far. At a certain point, I had to ditch the list and go with my gut. I asked my heart where it wanted to be a year, two years, three from now. It kept saying not here. That to me is more valuable than any list.
So here I am, waiting for that damn net to appear. I’m trying my best to enjoy the free fall. It’s not too often in life that we have no idea where we’re going to land. There’s only one thing I know for sure. In the immortal words of David Bowie:
So what about you? How do you make a big life decision? Let me know in the comments!