An Irish Goodbye To The Grind

“Ah yeah, heading off to the land down under, bit of craic.”

“Sure there’s nothing here for me.”

“It’s always raining.”

“There are no good jobs.”

“The housing crisis is a disgrace.”

“I want to go find myself.”

Whatever quote applies to you, or your loved ones, there seems to be a myriad of reasons to take the plunge. I never thought I would be part of this cohort, not because I think I’m too good for Australia or anything of the sort. I never thought I would be part of this cohort because change is scary and why change when everything is going swimmingly?

I moved to Dublin from Cork four years ago and it was the best decision of my life. The perfect MA degree, the perfect new friends, the varied media experience, the opportunity to work for an exciting start-up, the lifestyle, the busyness. I loved every bit of it. Within a week of the move, I decided that this would be my home-home long into the future. 

The idea of emigrating never really appealed to me. In fact, the thought of it always made me feel a bit queasy. Routine and fun with boundaries are my happy place. The idea of starting somewhere fresh when everything is perfectly fine (!!) just didn’t (still doesn’t) make sense to me and my type-A personality.

Last Summer, one of my best friends asked me if I wanted to move to Melbourne with her in 2020. She was just finishing up her two-year visa in Vancouver. I remembered the feeling of saying goodbye in the airport the first time she left and immediately said “YASSS.”

That night, after the phone call, I slept on it, thoughts of anxiety, guilt, and stress started swirling around my head. I thought to myself, I have the GREAT job, the AMAZING friends, the PERFECT boyfriend. The idea of moving started feeling like throwing a grenade into a perfectly grand routine.

 “No I’d never leave, I’m happy out sure.”

“I’m very lucky to have a job.”

“I’m actually kind of a winter person so I don’t mind the weather.”

“1K a month for a badly insulated sitting room isn’t the worst rent wise!”

“Sure what are those plonkers off doing, going finding themselves.”   

Maybe it’s the vivid memories of the 2008 recession or the fact that the media/creative industry is fickle, maybe it’s PTSD of waitressing through college and not wanting to return to that lifestyle, maybe it’s the time difference, maybe it’s my inner home bird, maybe it’s not wanting to imagine not seeing certain people every week. Whether it’s one of these variables or a collection of the above, the more I resisted the idea of change in my mind, the more I realized that something had to change.

There was lots of change. I literally changed my mind daily for about six months and was jealous of those who could make their choice in one swift movement. As the end of summer approached, I decided I definitively was not going. Three weeks before Christmas I applied and paid for a visa, on the Dart, from my phone, just like that.   

Throughout the decision-making process, I realized that the unknown is a very scary place and that the “hustle culture” that we’re all talking about at the moment had infiltrated my own psyche. Brain fog regarding the big move had descended, and when it cleared I was left with the realization that my biggest fear was/is not reaching certain professional milestones by age Y.

I realized that, for some reason, I didn’t associate success with adventure or time off, and I cared more about looking impressive professionally over experiencing new things in my personal life.

Queue Mindfulness Music

This is one of those moments when you realize you should stop scoffing at mindfulness and maybe take note of inspirational quotes such as “Life is not a race” “It’s the journey, not the destination” a bit more seriously.   

I realized that I nearly gave up on a massive opportunity due to the potential lack of routine. Routine that I associated with the path to success. I wanted to live in the known as opposed to the unknown. I was willing to sacrifice anything and everything to ensure that the current path was not disrupted. 

It’s obvious to any objective bystander that 365 days of just winging it and taking a break from your own imagined trajectory and the massive pressure (you put on yourself) that goes with it will not derail your entire life. Did I mention I’m slightly melodramatic? 

It’s funny because as I type now, I realize that making a choice gave me a choice. It gave me the choice to choose myself over the rules I had set for myself to “be successful”. 

The moral of this tangent is; The world doesn’t fall down if you don’t reach goals that you set for yourself when your sixteen. 

It’s okay to admit to people that you’re tired. It’s okay to admit to people that your daily routine isn’t working for you anymore. It’s okay to run after the things that you’re shit scared of. It’s okay to change

I don’t know what the next 12 months are going to look like and for the first time, in a long time, I feel totally calm about the future. 

For any fellow “change hypochondriacs”, here are my words of wisdom: 

  • Your friends will still be here when you come back, you’ll miss them and it will be like a dagger through the heart saying goodbye, but they’ll still be here.
  • You’re 25 and well-educated, Karen, you’ll get a job in your industry and if you don’t, you’ll be 26 when you get back on track. Refrain from having a meltdown, please. 
  • You can always turn back. You can turn back when you apply for your visa, you can turn back when you pay for your flights and you can turn back when you get there. There is always a choice to “CTRL-ALT-Delete” this decision. 
  • Yes, you have saved enough money, breathe, you worked damn hard to save it so don’t be afraid to spend it. Just not all in one night. 
  • You’ll change your mind a hundred times between now and E-day, but change is good. Change helps you grow, change makes things happen, choose to change. Lean into something new, take a deep “mindful” deep breath and let go.

Alexa: “Play Nina Simone, Feeling Good.”

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