Should I stay or Should I go?

Life has been Cra-Zee since returning home! Three weeks has passed by and I’m left wondering how so much has happened in what feels like so little time. My mind is in constant ON mode and I seem to have no way of shutting down my brain as it bounces and spins full of thoughts of what’s next, what I thought was going to happen to flashbacks and memories of the last 10 months of my life in Spain and my beautiful travels. 

Up until a few days after I landed back in the good ole’ SF Bay Area, I knew what came next: Find a job I enjoy and find a place to live. I wasn’t sure which would be more difficult because SF is a competitive cut throat, overpriced renting market. Gah.  Maybe I’m slightly exaggerating but it’s nothing I look forward to, high rent prices (how does $1000 for a room, yes a room, sound to you? + utilities!) and too many people fighting, I mean, looking for the same room as you.   I knew what I was getting myself into moving back to the Bay, heck that’s why I was ok with paying full rent of 250 euros, yes 250 euros ($325) + utilities a month for a 2 bedroom apartment on the sea, where I could hear waves rolling in with my windows shut in my sea side town. 

Beach and paseo

During a beautiful surprise picnic, the afternoon after I arrived, jet lagged and all, a friend I hadn’t talked to since December asked me what my plans were- I knew what she was getting at. ” Give me a week and I’ll begin the job search and brush up on my interview skills,” I say. “Ah, no need to worry about your interview skills, it’s more of a conversation,” she tells me.  Flash forward to a week later, and I’m at an  just getting off the ground cocoa bean to bar chocolate factory in San Francisco getting a tour from my friend, then after a brief chat, I’m asked, We’d love to have you, how does 9am tomorrow sound?

Ah, ok. That was easy and really fast. I’m not sure what to think about it all. I try not to. Just go with it. 

Job in San Francisco- Check.

So, the job part was easy. No resumes, cover letters, “proper interviews,” no waiting around or feeling depressing sink in waiting for call backs or replies. BAM. It was in my lap.

I go with it. After my first full day, I’m exhausted mentally and physically and arrive home 12 hours later. Thank goodness I don’t have to go in tomorrow, I think. Sitting on the BART train surrounded by commuters, most on their iphones, I think to myself, this is it, that damn American dream, working working working for 2 days of play on the weekends. But I wonder, if I scratch this opportunity, am I losing something, will I regret the possibilities that could have come from this experience?

Yet I know the game. I know that’s how it goes. I know the rules if I choose a life in America, and more so in a city such as San Francisco! 40+ hour workweek (most likely and maybe more) And I can’t help but think, is this it? Am I really ready? I mean, really ready for this? I also know that unless I’m promoted rather quickly with this job, I’ll be barely getting by, practically giving all my earnings to a landlord. “You can find other work friends tell me,” sure I can,  but I’m left to still wonder, Am I ready yet?

Hop on and enjoy the ride

Is there really a rush? What’s another year of putting off the inevitable? You know “Real life,” though I’ve been living a Real life in Spain… But there is pressure. Societal pressure that I always strive to Defy, pressure of what I expect of myself, pressure that if I want a family, I need to be able to earn a living wage that can support myself nicely and others. Pressure that there’s a certain road map and I need to follow it because heck, I’m a year and a few months from 30! But what does THIRTY mean anyway? Why do we put so much pressure, stress and shit on this number? I’ve seen how it’s affected friends and it’s no good. These preconceived notions of how are life is supposed to be or where we think will be by a certain age only gets in the way of living, doing what we really want and enjoying ourselves. 

Heck, between my commute of an hour and half  each way (until I move to SF) and a 9 hour day equals what I worked in a week in Spain.

But I know Spain isn’t all grandeur either, I won’t deny many a time, my work was boring and static and I often day dreamed of what I was going to cook for lunch or where I was going to travel next while assisting in my classes. I know living abroad has it’s ups and downs, flashbacks of the hardships, frustrations and feelings of just wanting to be back home resurface. Now that I’m home, I realize neither place is perfect nor a perfect fit. It’s life. There’s no easy one way street to take nor would I want everything to be easy as much as I may say I do. Some of the most challenging things I’ve experienced in my life have proved most insightful, tested my will and strength,and has taught me who I am and what I’m capable of but in the midst of it all, I’d gladly take an easy pass, puh leeze!

I’ve also surprised myself because returning to Spain was never in the cards. Never part of my plan. The only reason why I re-applied was because I had to for legal reasons that ended up not working out, anyway.

say what? yeah, really. It wasn’t part of the plan…

I’ll be honest, if I go to Spain my main reason isn’t to teach. As much as I like teaching and think I’m pretty darn good at it, which I realized this past year, I’m not going for the job. I’m going to improve my Spanish. I can speak Spanish. I can have conversations. I can understand most Spanish TV but my Spanish isn’t where I want it to be. Sure, I can take Spanish classes and attend Spanish conversation meet-ups if I stay in SF but it’s going to require a lot of self motivation. A lot of it. I know how I am. Going back to Spain allows me to fulfill personal goals, to enjoy another year of a leisurely lifestyle, to travel more in Europe, to hone my cooking skills and take some cooking classes and allow life to just happen without the daily stresses that seem to engulf us in the States.  

I also think it’s pretty freaking cool that I’d live in the North and have the opportunity to get to know a completely different region of Spain, see different landscapes, places and pueblos, try new regional cuisine, meet new people and travel some more! Let’s just hope I have the energy for it all ( I came home early from potential burn out and now I’m thinking to hop back on over…) It’s also a bit scary- I’m essentially starting over! The excitement and scariness of it all. I don’t know a soul.  Then again, I didn’t know anyone before I left the first time but was lucky to be in contact with a gal via Facebook whom I became amazing friends with and met another wonderful friend my first night in a hostel in Madrid. So there you go… Life always is full of surprises.

So I’m left to make a decision soon, with both possibilities having their challenges and benefits. I do know that whatever decision I make will be the right one…but it doesn’t make it any easier.

So much truth, this should be everywhere as a friendly reminder!

One moment, I’m all about Spain, the next, I wonder if it’s really where I’m meant to go. In the meantime, I’m trying to relax my brain and trying to hear my intuition speak. My intuition always knows best but it’s hard. I’ve only been hearing muffles. I guess that just means it’s just not quite time to make a decision.

Have you been in a situation where you had to make a tough decision? What helped you through the process? Or have you been in a situation where you thought you knew your path and then a major change, made you question everything/changed everything for you?

Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below : )

25 thoughts on “Should I stay or Should I go?

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    • Hi Prithika,
      Thanks for stopping by. I often wondered if there was a 3rd possibility but right now I feel I don’t have the energy for taking off and just traveling nor do I know where I’d begin. I’m a little worn out from summer travels and a lot of unexpected change upon returning home. So I’m giving Spain another go, this time in the North!

  9. Oh gawd, I went through this exact same phase… and returned a second year to Spain. When that contract ended, I went home for about a year, and it was a really, REALLY, hard year for me. But there were also countless moments I cherished (like being able to see my friends, and having my family nearby again). In my mind, all I wanted was to return to Spain. And I did, I did! But it wasn’t entirely okay because Spain’s charm had worn off in some ways (you know, the issues we’ve talked about), and wanderlust really hit again.

    I think it really is just a matter of trying things out, seeing what works, learning as much as we can, and simply hoping that we’re that much closer to finding our niche in the big world. And of course becoming better and more interesting individuals along the way. 🙂

    • Michi, I'm glad I'm not the only one. It seems like such a simple decision on paper but it's being an interesting roller coaster of a ride processing everything and making the decision. Some days I still feel I'm not a 100% yet but by the time the visa date comes (end of August), I'm sure I'll be getting a lot more excited!

      It's also strange for me since I never had the romantic notion of Spain, like most do and had no plans of returning. Apart of me wants to "settle" for a bit but the other part of me has "unfinished business" aka: speak better and more fluid Spanish! I guess you saw a lot of restless in me with all our good conversations and wondering where'd we'd end up. Spain is my way to fluency. So following that goal and seeing where it leads me.

      In my moments of uncertainty- I remind myself I'm lucky and blessed to live in a country filled with opportunities. I rather have choice (despite the challenges it brings, ha!) than have none. We are so lucky!

  10. Well, it isn’t easy. I didn’t want to return actually; I had a pretty bad experience as an auxiliar, but I’m returning anyway. (I’m not teaching English in a high school ever again!) Obviously, I have my own reasons for doing so.

    If it weren’t for my husband’s pretty secure job, I think I might be a little leery of returning to Spain, though! Their economy is … uh, not good. Besides that, it’s a great country, even if I do miss my friends/family so much while I’m there.

    • Thanks Kaley. It’s definitely not easy. I was lucky and really enjoyed my time as an auxiliar in a high school. Maybe it was luck?! Sure hoping my new instituto is just as great!

      I don’t see myself living in Spain for the long term but for right now it seems like another great opportunity to improve my Spanish and see another part of Spain. Though I know, I’m really going to have to TRY hard to get better at speaking Spanish… it’s a constant thing. Some days are great Spanish days, others not so good.
      It’s definitely hard leaving family/friends and the familiar behind!

  11. Oh you really are going through what I have been feeling. If it helps I decided to stay in Toronto and travel from there. I really want to give Toronto a shot and if it doesn’t feel right I’ll move on. Maybe you will feel the same way?

    • hi Ayngelina,
      Good to know I’m not the only one struggling with making decisions. I’ve decided to go… if the Bay wasn’t so expensive I may be more inclined to really try but with all that’s happened for me and the opportunity to return to Spain, I’m thinking, Why not? This program may not exist next year…

  12. These decisions are so hard, but I find that once they’re made I can never imagine having done anything else. It sounds like either would be a great opportunity. Just don’t look back once you’ve made your choice! Good luck!

    • Thank you for stopping by my blog! Yes it’s so true. I’ve been thinking about this for a bit- once I make the decision I’ll likely look back and wonder why I questioned it in the first place but in the thick of it, it doesn’t seem so obvious! And you can’t look back! No Regrets is the way to go!

  13. Well, I turned 30 at the end of March this year and I haven’t felt this good about myself and my life in a long LONG time – if ever. Thirty has brought with itself a calm assuredness of the soul. A sense of contentment I have never known before – even though I’m not married, hitched or anywhere NEAR where I thought I’d be at this age. But people are different and perhaps your experiences nearing 30 will be different too…

    What I can tell you being an ex-expat is that you have changed – even though I don’t know you personally and won’t be able to tell you how you’ve changed. But I’ve seen this hundreds of times before. People return “home” with an idea of what life will be like once they’re there, only to find themselves disappointed on a level. Life is never what we imagine it to be – it just is. And while you were away SF and all life in it went on. And your life went on – you had some great experiences and these experiences (stacked up on each other) will have changed you in some way or form.

    Going back will be different too – it won’t be Roquetas by the sea. It will be a completely different experience that it might as well be another foreign country. I had this problem coming back from London. I had idolised everything I missed about home and the moment I came back I instantly regretted it. I had forgotten everything that wasn’t so peachy and rosy and found myself depressed for a solid 6 months after that. Back then, I hadn’t realised that I had changed – I had changed so drastically (becoming my own person) that moving back had set me back and I found myself trying to reconcile a “new” me into my old life.

    Anyways, I eventually got over it and life carried on – but I made the mistake again of idolising my life in London with my friends. And when I did go back a few months later, I realised that even if we all moved back to the same house in the same street etc., life would never be the same again. The London I had known and loved so much was gone forever. Only the memories remained and there was no way to recapture any of that – unless I was prepared to move on and make new memories i.e. starting all over again.

    I’m not saying you’re anything like me, you probably know all of this already, but I’ve seen many people trying to reconcile the people they’ve become with their old lives and it makes them miserable. The key is to keep on moving… accepting things for what they are and making the most of it, no matter what decision you make, no matter where you are and what you’re doing 🙂 Good Luck either way !

  14. Lauren, I face this questions everyday. Settle down and find a normal job and have a normal life… What do you want to carry on with the travels? What is all this travel for?? Better to find a job, stay there and buy a house( Spanish finality of life is to own a house).
    I completely disagree. There is many different lifestyles. I am proving everyone, that since I left Spain 7 years ago, I can work somewhere and carry on my trips. 30 is only a mental age for cobards people. For real deep travellers it does not mean anything. Live the life you want to leave, thats it! 🙂 suerte!

    • hi Noelia,
      Thanks for the beautiful comments. It’s good to know I’m the only one faced with these questions. It’s so true. 30 is just a number but sadly, it’s so ingrained in most Western Countries that by this age (sometimes younger) you need to be married, have a career and likely thinking about kids!
      It’s hard not to be the “norm” but then again, I coined the term for myself a while back and try to live by it: “defy convention”
      It’s not always easy!

  15. Regresa a España…that’s my opinion. First, it sounds like you are suffering from a bit of “nostalgia” as they say in Spain, reverse culture shock, homesickness.

    Second, it sounds like you are trying to talk yourself into going back to Spain and if it were me…I’d already be there! 🙂

    Back in 1986 when I finished studying in Spain there wasn’t the kind of demand there is now for learning English there. The only job I was offered was to be a summer nanny for a wealthy Spanish family and their 9 children and that wasn’t really my cup of tea. I went home heartsick about leaving and didn’t come back for about 20 years…

    • Hi Birgit,
      Thanks for reading and the commentary. Yes, I think there has been a lot going on in my life, plus reverse culture shock and all. I haven’t had a chance to just really sit with everything, though I seem to do plenty of lounging when I don’t have plans or am not working, something I (thankfully) learned in Spain!

      I know I need to give this all time.

      Wow, it took you 20 years later to return! A job offer to be a nanny to 9? I like kids and have worked as a nanny but I may have been like you and passed it up as well. That sounds a bit intense!

      • Exactly! I hope you take some time and talk to a lot of your family and friends before you make the decision. I didn’t go back until 20+ years because it was just difficult logistically, economically and emotionally. It’s a big decision and a big deal to start up from scratch again. But GOOD LUCK whatever you decide! Hugs, Birgit

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