Like many Americans, I’ve always, always had a “life plan.” I mean sure, my plans were usually a bit extravagant; they always included adventure, optimism, teaching abroad, traveling to faraway places, and thinking outside the box— but they were plans all the same. In short, I’ve always sort of known what I was going to be doing next. For example, my post-university plans included doing the assistantship program in France, and I made that happen. After finishing the assistantship, my plan was to become a lectrice, and I made that happen too. Finally, after being a lectrice, my plan was to stay in France by whatever means possible, whether that meant finding a sponsored teaching job (which would be the most ideal!), or simply reapplying to be an assistant again (as technically, I could), enrolling in graduate school, becoming an au pair, or getting married to my French lover. My plans didn’t need much substance, because they simply included doing whatever it would take to just stay in the country and continuing to live my expatriate lifestyle.
But here’s the thing about plans: they can change. And as I find myself 4 months away from the end of my second lectrice year, nothing has really gone according to plan. After being a lectrice, I can’t see myself being an assistante again. At 26, I know I would hate au pairing, and I simply don’t want to get my master’s in France. I also don’t need to mention that I am basically single AF.
Upon returning to France from the United States after Christmas, I started updating both my American resume and French CV for the first time in two years. I also started creating a British-style CV because of my aspirations to go to the UK, whether that be for school or work. I started thinking seriously about my next steps– what I wanted to do and how I was going to get there. Finally, I updated my LinkedIn profile, began networking with any professional connections I could make, subscribed to various teacher recruitment websites, wrote cover letter after cover letter, and sent applications here, there, and everywhere.
And during the span of a few months, I’ve had some realizations. I know I need a home base– somewhere to next and come back to after my travels. More importantly, I realize that I no longer have the desire to just coast— to live nomadically, and to live paycheck to paycheck while working unchallenging and unfulfilling jobs here and there just to stay afloat and in France.
But, most importantly, I realized that there is only me to worry about, and that the advantage of just having me to worry about was that I can really and truly choose where I want to go next, which is both empowering and terrifying at the same time.
Recently, I found myself in a very lucky position: I had two different but interesting paths to choose from. One path would have led me back to my homeland- back to familiarity in regards to people and landscapes and culture, but more importantly to a job I knew I would enjoy. However, I wasn’t ready to commit to going back home. There was a part of me that wanted to keep trying to stay– at least for now. The other path seemed equally as interesting. This path would keep me where I am now– where I have a fun home and good friends and the ability to travel far and wide. But something about this opportunity didn’t feel quite right; even if it guaranteed a work visa, I wasn’t sure it was the best fit for me, and therefore, for them.
I was stuck at this fork in the road for longer than I should have been. I kept hesitating, taking two steps forward and one step back. The busy voices in my head couldn’t make up their minds. I had spent the last few weeks listing pros and cons, pacing back and forth, and hesitating at the crossroads.
But then suddenly, last Saturday, I jolted awake at 5 am. And I decided to finally listen to what the universe was trying to tell me. I knew what I needed to do.
I turned around, back away from the fork, and walked away. I haven’t looked back. And I feel relieved.
I chose neither. And in choosing neither, I chose me.
Some people think I’m crazy– I gave up stability, reassurance, a salary, and employment. I also passed by a work visa. But I know I made the right decision for me, at the time.
And one day soon, I’ll have to make a decision about where to go and what to do. But today is not that day. Those paths were not the paths I was meant to take. As of now, I am excited to keep driving and discovering new roads– roads that I had originally passed on my way to this fork, but now have the chance to go back to. I’m trying to be more spontaneous– to take a leap of faith into the unknown and keep applying for professional opportunities which both excite and challenge me. I am trying to give myself a chance here– a chance to listen to my gut and to try my luck at waiting for something I’m super stoked about, both personally and professionally. Besides, for the time being, I have time– a salary until the end of August, and a visa until mid-October.
To not have a plan is a bit outside of my comfort zone, but for now, it feels right. I’m going with my gut- there’s something out there for me. I’ll be alright.