What an adventure.
The first time I went overseas on a short trip I was told by the person putting together the team and reviewing applications that one of the character traits they looked for was flexibility.
You cannot predict what will happen in a new country. Events and travel never go the way you can expect and predict in your home country.
Some might say this causes culture shock. Expectations can break ya.
I have seen some pretty miserable and pretty funny ways people culture shock in my days.
That one trip turned into a longer one the next year and then a year abroad and then somehow I found myself on my decade-ish abroad and I have discovered two things.
#1. I do well in flexible situations.
I don’t need to have my ducks in a row. I love vision and roll with the punches often quite naturally. I don’t need all the details. I can flex. It’s made me a good candidate for an exorbitant amount of international travel.
#2. But you can never really predict or guarantee what will happen in life, not just when you are new to a country and culture. We can think that if we stay home we have some measure of control and the international travelers take the risks. But we don’t.
I made a new country home enough to really feel like I belonged, but assimilation hasn’t changed the unpredictability of life.
Oh and #3 (Adding a number here), even flexible people still live with a plan sometimes.
Even me, the flexible one, loves having a plan. It’s an odd characteristic for a character that majors in flexibility. I don’t think I am the only one.
I have had a plan for a long time.
I tested out variations of that plan. Yet gravitated back to the plan. On the surface, I looked more flexible than some people.
“How can you live so far away from home?” “How can you eat that?” (This might only be in Russia.. ick. Sorry Russia. Not my favourite cuisine.) “You went to WHAT country!?” “How can you show up in a city and not know where you will sleep later that week??” (hint. google, BnB searches and a lot of friends) I can live in a place that makes some people uncomfortable and give the appearance of being really flexible.
But I am not that flexible. I like to know where I am going. I like to have a plan (I don’t tell you this, but it’s there in my head). And like the most anxious of travelers, even I can be thrown a bit when the plan changes. Not as early on, but eventually yes, even us flexible ones can be thrown a bit.
Life changed. It changed last year to launch me to Florida. I didn’t die in Florida. Thankfully. Thank you Patty Griffin for your anthem for Florida haters.
As my year has gone on, it has changed even more. My expectations of job, city and way of life have all gone topsy turvy even in the last couple months. A year ago and a bit ago, my expectations for people went awry.
I am learning that I am less in control than I ever want to admit. I mean. I knew that. But… man.. this year I have learnt it experientially.
The flexible one has discovered she is not always so flexible. Last year, there was a lot of fighting the changes to plan. This year, I couldn’t have predicted these new turns, so I think there is less fighting and more curiousity.
I like that reaction. Where will this new adventure lead?
For now, it is leading me away from my beloved city… and so I am saying my goodbyes this week… waiting for what’s next to come.
With a plan of course.
That might change.