Happy Lunar New Year of the Water Tiger to everyone! I wish you’ll roar through the next chapter louder than the last.
Lately, I’ve been quite focused on changing significant parts of my life. After my failed exam I promised to not give up on the dream/plan. However while still in the hotel room I could not take my eyes away from the German channels on TV. During my childhood, I watched cartoons, movies, and shows exclusively in German, even though we live in Eastern Europe. I loved it. My mother always thought I barely understood anything and when I desperately wanted to go to German classes at a private tutor she didn’t want me to try, because she wanted to protect me from failure. She was speechless when she heard me read and talk in almost perfect German. I knew I spoke the language, I believed in myself.
Last year, when I was in that hotel room, I basked in the glory of an American action movie dubbed in German (it’s a fetish not many understand, but for James Bond’s sake did his voice actor sound alluring). I didn’t even realize how much I missed it. How much my mind craved that weird buzz thinking in a language considered to be cold and harsh gave me.
So when I got back to my town, to the familiar apartment where I have lived for 5 years, I have had it. I couldn’t do it any longer. I swore I will not stay a minute longer in that city, in this country than is absolutely necessary. I am not finished with my legal career, I hope not, that is not my aim. But everything seemed so stuck and out of place, even though everything was just as I left it. And it terrified me.
I had this sinking feeling that since I left high school, I haven’t progressed in my life one bit. I haven’t done anything that I was outstandingly proud of. No university degree, job experience, or volunteer work filled that gap I just discovered. I was and still am very proud of my friends. And it hit me that most of them I met through some German-related course or event.
I compared myself to my former classmates. It seemed everybody was ahead of me. It didn’t get better when I saw one of my classmates interview the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary. I started feeling like everybody was actually 28 and I stayed 18.
So I started changing everything because I knew what was coming up and what it meant. My ten-year high school reunion. Dreadful. All the people that knew you when you were still developing your personality and drawing up boundaries. That heard all the stupid comments you had to utter because you wanted to impress that guy, to fit in with that clique, to embarrass that other girl because of a petty fight you two had weeks ago. Just like bad Facebook photos that one gets tagged in, they are not representative of the person now.
So bearing in mind the time that has passed and how unsatisfied I felt, I applied to multiple jobs. Fortunately, I got offered a position at a visionary tech company with a fruity logo and will relocate to Ireland this month. What is even better, it’s a position for German language speakers. I also changed my relationships quite a bit. I always had problems opening up to people and asking for what I want or don’t. I often joked and said ‘Use me and abuse me’ (I know, I know). So I started sticking up for myself a bit more. Saying no a bit more. Explaining why that no isn’t meant to be hurtful, condescending, or even mean. It is based on my knowledge of myself which no other human has.
I started being more present in the moment. I haven’t had a good snowball fight since I was in pre-k but in January I made up for the lost time. I stood outside in the snow and tried catching the flakes with my tongue. They are tasty. I tried all the recipes I have been telling myself for the past 4 to 5 years I’ll try someday.
All of this is because I have no clue what I did during the last decade. I sure as hell wasn’t too happy. Heck, I remember January of 2021 when I cried each and every day, sometimes multiple times a day and I still don’t know why. I probably never will. I studied, and struggled, drank a lot at times, and treated some people in ways they didn’t deserve.
And when the realization started settling that it’s actually been 10 years already and I only have a handful of happy memories, well that was a tough blow. It put everything into perspective. How much I gave up for grades that nobody will ever care about. How many people I didn’t meet because I thought they are just joking when they say they want to meet up. How many snowflakes just melted into a puddle when they could have been caught by me.
I desperately needed and wanted change, and was fortunate enough to have created it quite fast. Maybe the universe saw that the lightbulb finally turned on. Pavlov arrived at last. I don’t know what the next ten years will bring, hopefully, I do get another ten. But I know I will not allow myself to be how I was in the past. I will try and do better because I just cannot afford to even feel like I wasted another decade being miserable. In ten years’ time, I want to have a more positive perspective. To look back and have laugh lines all around my eyes and memories I can reminisce upon with friends and family. I don’t want to limit myself any longer and fear change and the unknown so much.
Looking back on this decade, I can see that life is very short. You blink a few times and *pop* it’s gone. Life disappears, it’s natural, but it doesn’t have to be sad. With a little more courage and faith, it can transcend the here and now, and turn into tales of a life well-lived.