Abroad and Alone, pt. 2

I swear it’s the constant gloom that hovers outside that makes me pensive. Deep down I know that the phase I am going through is inescapable and would have occurred no matter what country I was living in. I can no longer blame the location for my internal conflict.

I saw a Facebook post about how J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent at 27, yet now she’s a successful author. I listened to a podcast episode where Alec Baldwin was interviewing Lena Dunham, a millennial (really hate that term) who clearly made it in the production world. I am 26. What have I really achieved so far? Since graduating from Brandeis I have: 1. Taught English professionally for two years, 2. Paid off both my undergrad and postgrad tuitions on my own, 3. Traveled to 11 countries without loans, 4. Endured a long distance relationship, a prolonged interaction with a sociopath, a series of hook-ups and one night stands to teach me about “love,” 5. Earned a masters degree, 6. Moved myself over to two countries alone, 7. Got engaged, 8. Worked in three different professional sectors……

Eight. Apparently I have eight “accomplishments” since 2013, although the majority of what I listed are more personal gain rather than a real “accomplishment.” 

If I had not gone to Korea or the UK, I would have always wondered what my life could have been. I would have looked at countless Instagrams of expats and wondered about what they were doing on the other side of the globe. I do not regret moving to a different country for a career or education. The move alone exposed me to interactions (with the best, worst, craziest, and smartest individuals hailing from Singapore to South Africa to Peru) and allowed me to enjoy life in my early twenties. I earned a good salary that enabled me to leave work at work and to hang out with friends, go on a road trip, and explore Asia during weekends. In those years, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I simultaneously gushed to my friends in the US about my travels while lamenting the struggles of living in a foreign land. At first, I stared longingly at Facebook pictures of friends and acquaintances starting grad school (the traditionally “right” next step after graduation) in the streets of the East Coast, jealous that they were in their familiar settings. But gradually, as I traveled and struck more friendships, it was hard to stop talking about it all. I mailed out postcards monthly about my new adventures.

Choosing grad school was the easiest next decision. It was a safe and respectable choice that also masked my uncertainty of what I wanted to do in the future. I arrived in the UK and felt the excitement of starting a new academic year, but I quickly realized that I missed “adult life.” I worked part-time and lived with 4 other girls in a dorm setting. Although others were in the same boat as me, I was eager to obtain my degree and move past the student world; a fabricated environment of beer calories and mundane Student Union events.

I think I became older, wiser (in the humblest of tones), and more cognizant of class & racial barriers. I am in a standstill, held back by those barriers. But I am also in this phase because I don’t know what I want to do. I am not sure what I truly excel at or am interested in. The reality is that my “skills” and talents are replaceable, whereas those in the more relevant career paths today (such as IT) are continuously in demand. I have friends who relate and past mentors who assure me that everyone goes through this phase. But- when will I get out of it? I am not sure what I am working towards. I have degrees from excellent schools and am not broke (yet) but the current highlights of my day are: going to the gym, finishing up the laundry, and seeing my fiance when he gets out of work.

I am moving to the US to apply for a fiance visa, and then I’ll have more months of waiting until I get married. After that lies the uncertain period of applying until I land a position. But given the political climate, what if I endure the same obstacles of class, racial & gender barriers that restrained me from obtaining a permanent job here in the first place? Everyone says that love is enough, and that it conquers all. While I agree to a degree, I think I was more inclined to complete the visa process in the UK because it gave me a plan. I have neither a career nor stability. I will choose stability when it’s offered to me.

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