Still interested? Let’s get a bit more juicy.
The winter of 2019 was a karmic, symbolic experience punishment. For the past two years, I had, theoretically, skipped a real winter. (FYI Florida gets colder than you think, but it was still above freezing the entire time. Malaysia was just wet.) Keep in mind, I am not the Elsa type. I am a Vata (it’s an Ayurvedic term, look it up). I do not like the cold. I do not like being cold. I do not thrive in cold, dark environments. I want it far, far away from me.
Every time another snowstorm hit, or the temperature dropped below -20 degrees F, I truly believed the weather was penalizing me for having skipped my fair share of bad weather. I considered it a personal punishment, and at one point I even felt guilty—GUILTY—for having caused one of the most awfulest, heart-crushingest winters of my life.
Isolated by icy white blankets, miserable by the lack of the sun and its rejuvenating energy, I couldn’t keep my head above a deep sea of negative thoughts. Nothing mattered anymore. I went through the motions of work and meals, and not much else. I was overwhelmed by my past. I couldn’t see into the future.
The present moment was the existential equivalent of resting bitch face—unpleasant to look at without knowing why.
What I did know is that I had 5 months left to figure out my next move. I also knew that staying in Chicago was not good for me. I considered Colorado and Arizona (seriously), Hawaii and Costa Rica (less seriously). I was even getting desperate enough to go back to my old job in Florida--thank God for my best friend, who reminded me that job wasn’t good for my mental health either.
(Side note: I’ve learned that quitting a job is just like a break up. Don’t go back. Especially if you think they’ve changed. Just don’t.)
April 2019, and still no God-given answer on a location. I wavered between states of wishing I would die and forcing myself to try harder to be happy. I didn’t want to be an emotional burden to my family and friends. I didn’t want to be so self-centered anymore, because coping with a constant feeling of impending doom kind of takes up all of the time you would otherwise give to others.
Several months back, my parents had planned a trip to Poland, and I was invited. But here’s where it gets interesting. I decided not to come back with them. I had traveled alone before, but this time I was reaching out into the corners of seven different cities. I was casting out a line, waiting for a place that would sing to me, soothe me in my misery. Dramatic? Yes. True? Also, yes. The closer I got to My Grand Europe Trip of 2019, the more I depended on it to give me answers, and restart my perspective on life.
And sometimes, my dear friends, you get exactly what you ask for.
Three weeks ago, I moved to Europe.
In case this is an “eh” moment for you, let me explain why it’s such a huge deal for me.
I spent the majority of my first 20 years of life in the same suburb of Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, I am forever grateful for having a safe and relatively “normal” childhood, but I itched to get away, to explore, to experience life in different places and with different people. So, I studied in Florence and London for a semester in college. I moved to Florida for a year, then Malaysia for 7 months, following a job that gave me room and board (and a lot of anxiety).
Though I had never (yet) moved to another country on my terms, I loved it anyway. And then the shit hit the fan.
August 2018. I returned to Chicago following the death of my grandfather, preceding the birth of my nephew. I broke off an unhealthy relationship, moved back in with my parents, was unemployed once again. At first, it was a time of rest, recovery, and introspection. I was ecstatic to be able to hug my parents, laugh with my sister, and entertain the only baby in our family. I grew closer to my grandmother, healed a broken relationship with my other grandmother, and—against all preconceptions—discovered new friends. I gave myself a minimum of 6 months, and a maximum of 1 year, to figure out the next big step. And then, I fell into a deep depression.
It came in small doses at first. After a day or two of feeling an equal mixture of sadness and apathy, I would pick myself up and force myself to be happy. With a combo of a psychology degree and an interest in spirituality and self-improvement, I knew what the steps were to stave off depressive episodes. Nobody, including myself, could have guessed that I was about to have a full-blown meltdown that lasted a solid two months.
But I know your attention span is at it's limit, so that's all for today.