The clichest of the cliche's. And yet, the truest of truths, in my opinion.
I've been asked a lot lately about how I ended up here, and really the simplest response I can give is, "Well.. because.. everything happens for a reason, I guess". But if you're really curious as to why I'm such a believer in the idea, keep reading.
So how did I get here exactly? If we're being at all truthful here, it was through a lot of success and failure. Through a lot of love and heartbreak. But really it was through the path that I, and I alone, ultimately created for myself. It wasn't fate. It wasn't destiny. And I don't believe that it was "God's plan" either. It was me, my choices, and a whole lot of random circumstances that brought me to certain people and certain situations at any given time. And a whole lot of people and opportunities coming into my life just when I needed them.
So if you're really that interested, here's the shortest play by play of the last 25 years of my life. It started at first with my dad's job which moved us from Montana, to Colorado, to Wyoming, and to finally to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin where we finally settled for the remainder of my childhood. It was relatively safe, and the majority of people I knew were smart, practical and made relatively good decisions. We had our fun, but we (mostly) had our shit together too. This helped to mold me into a decently intelligent, well-rounded, and friendly kid, which was a pretty good start. Thanks class of 2006 for being awesome.
It was then through devastating high school break ups, that at the time, felt like the end of the world, that taught me to never rely on anyone to fuel your own happiness. I didn't know it then, but I became infinitely stronger and more independent because of this. Also good... in retrospect.
And then it was the seemingly unimportant decision at the time that dramatically influenced everything: My decision to attend UW- La Crosse for college. Here I met lots of outgoing, party loving, intelligent, happy, adventurous and independent young people. Here I had professors and other mentors who pushed me to be spontaneous, to be adventure seeking, to write purposefully, to learn continuously, to question the world, and to always be a free thinker. And here I met my very best friends who saw me at my very best, and who unknowingly, were at one point, witnessing me at my very worst, and yet loved and supported me whole-heartedly in any and all circumstances. (Thank you!!!)
And then there was of course that random meeting of strangers in which I experienced the closest thing to love at first sight that I will likely ever believe in, that made me realize that I was undeniably unhappy and unfulfilled and that I needed to move on. And so..
Roughly 1 year ago, I came to terms and had accepted the fact that my 5-year relationship was failing, and that I had truly fallen out of love with the place I’d been calling home for the last 7 years. Nothing I knew was serving my life in the way that I needed it to anymore. I was bored, sad, and longing for adventure, but had no idea what to do next or how to start over. I had no sense of direction, and at the same time, I had the entire world at my fingertips. My original plan of moving to Minneapolis to be closer to my sister and friends was still an option, but on a whim, I decided to search for international au pair jobs instead. I’ve always loved traveling and taking care of children, so maybe this would be my opportunity for a real life change, I thought. Maybe this was my escape. The good news is that many families saw something special in me, and I was so grateful for that. The bad news is, there was only one family that really caught my eye, and only one family that I completely fell in love with. My future was now riding on the unlikely chance that THEY would choose ME.
*More information on the full process of applying for au pair jobs here in one of my previous entries.
The Pieyre’s from Australia, contacted me with pages full of pictures and information about their wonderful family. After chatting for a while, doing reference checks, and deciding we could potentially be a good fit, we set up a Skype interview. Of course, flustered over the chance for this dream opportunity, I felt I came off very nervous and uneasy about the whole situation. Afterwards, like most interviews (or fights with former boyfriends), I sat there thinking about all of the “better” things I could have said, and was left feeling not all that confident about the whole thing. I undoubtedly thought they would choose somebody else and I grudgingly started planning my next move. So, I was back to convincing myself that a move to Minneapolis would be just as adventurous as a move across the Pacific.
Quite to my surprise though, I woke up on Easter morning to an email from the family asking ME to be their au pair! I was in complete shock and felt like I had just been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I also smiled more on that day than I had in months, quite possibly even years. If I said yes, I would be committing to moving there for up to a year and leaving my life in La Crosse, WI, behind forever. I thought about it for a mere 5 minutes, and then I terrifyingly, yet happily accepted. I then applied for a temporary work VISA and booked my plane ticket that very week, before I had the chance to be rational and back out. Leaving everything I know and love to live with strangers? Putting all of my trust in people I met online whole-heartedly? People said I was crazy, and I agreed. But, “No risk, no reward”, I kept telling myself.
Reality of course began to set in as I said goodbye to that long-time boyfriend, my three jobs, my friends, 95% of my belongings, and the place where I grew from a scared college Freshman to a hopeful 25 year old. I shed many tears as I started to really comprehend all that I was leaving behind, but decided to be brave and take the leap of faith anyway. After all, the biggest growth in yourself comes from doing the things that scare you the most, right?
So, roughly 6 weeks ago, I hopped on a plane feeling completely isolated, sad, terrified, and excited, all at the same time. I arrived and was greeted by my new family, and somehow, from 10,000 miles away, I instantly felt at home! Of course change is difficult on everybody, but making the decision to uproot my entire life for the chance to live and work abroad, took change to a whole new level. It was a bold move, but one worth making in my opinion. After all, everything in my life, good and bad has brought me here, to this very moment. The moment where I get to write about how happy and fulfilling my life has become. The moment where I realize that just one year ago I was at one of the absolute lowest points in my life. And the moment where I realize just how far I've come in such a relatively short amount of time.
Thank you to those of you who broke my heart. Thank you to those who taught me lessons (in school and in life). Thank you to those of you who helped me grow from a girl who once lacked a passion for life to a girl who now appreciates and dwells on every single moment. And thank you to those of you who helped mold me into someone I am now so happy and proud to be. I wouldn't be here, in this amazing situation, without each and every one of you.