“Are you sure you’re going back for the right reasons and you’re not trying to escape the inevitable here,” a good friend inquires while we soak up the sun lake side enjoying a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Oakland. “Why are you thinking of going for a second year? another friend asks as I struggle with my decision. Only one friend lectured me for 20 minutes on why it would be silly for me to go back, ‘because you can’t focus on your career over there, wouldn’t it be better to start anew in the States than somewhere new in Spain” she questioned. Then when she told me everything on her mind, she ended the conversation to tend to the needs of her very scheduled life.
Speechless, I hung up the phone and pondered. I shook my ahead in my attempt to brush off the feeling of not being understood, that feeling that someone else (thinks they) knows best. Yet, I know she meant well.
A sense of gratitude came over me as I acknowledged my friends who embraced me with open arms, comforted me, listened and talked to me as I went back and forth with my decision as I tried to make sense of everything before me. Do I stay or go? What’s best? And is there a “right” decision?
I often reflect on those sunny, lakeside downtown Oakland days where I felt so torn at what to do,
as if the decision would be the breaking point of my existence.
Nine months has passed and my time abroad in Basque Country has been exactly what I needed, despite its ups and downs; life happening no matter where I am. The doubts and uncertainties I had before embarking on a second adventure flood my memory as I’m back in the same spot, same home, same guest room in my parent’s home filled with random boxes of my “stuff.” I started over in a new town and succeeded just as I knew I would, the only thing that almost prevented me was my fear of all the “what if’s.” I laugh at myself now at what I almost missed out on, the new friends I made, the new region I learned about, sharing Basque Country with my mom, trying new foods, and travels I didn’t expect. I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself and can’t imagine how my life would have been if I stayed in California this past year. In fact, it seems crazy that I even pondered not coming.
Thank you to all my friends who listened and talked me through my decision. Thank you to those who left comments on my blog encouraging me to give it a go, Thank you to my supportive parents who always encourage me to follow my dreams and provide a temporary crashing pad when I come home and start over. Thank you to my brother who played devil’s advocate who questioned why I wouldn’t experience another year in a new place. Thank you to my ex who told me he wasn’t ready to get back together after I questioned my decision of breaking up. Thank you to everyone who played a part because now that I’ve experienced a second year and am back home, I realize just how necessary and important it was for me to return to the beautiful Iberian peninsula. Thank you to everyone I met in Vitoria-Gasteiz whether we hung out often or only once and to all of you I met while traveling because my second year wouldn’t have been the same without you!
Now I have new challenges and fears to push through (they never stop, do they?) and when doubt comes in, I re-shift my thoughts. In time, the doubts I have now will have an answer. I soon will figure out a place to live and will have a job I enjoy. A job that allows me to keep learning and growing in my field, inspires me, gives me freedom to pursue my other interests and above all, won’t feel like a job because I’ll look forward to doing it. I’m not sure what the job is but I trust it’s out there for me.
These are my new goals and challenges I face as I transition to being back in California.