I want to take a second to thank Lena Dunham, whose monologue on the first episode of the show Girls, is what inspired this post on a laid back Friday night while sipping my second glass of red wine. (Am I French enough yet?)
As I have mentioned in my previous posts about my move to Paris, this year is the time for me to take a breather between graduating from college and moving on to the next stage of my life. Which I'm pretty sure is called adulthood, with things that echo responsibility and maturity, but I'm secretly hoping it's all just a big conspiracy theory -- guess I will find out sooner or later. But with this avoidance of stability and structure comes the question that I'm almost positive everyone asks themselves on a day to day basis: What the hell am I doing with my life?
I can say with complete certainty that I have never known exactly what I wanted to do. I was never the one with career goals and plans that lead me down a path that I could follow with careful steps. I am someone whose idea of success has never been defined by fiscal means and monetary gains. I have always measured my life through the standard of experiences. And yet right now, I'm living an experience that people would describe as "once in a lifetime." Well, when you put it that way, I better be making the most of it right?
Moving here took me off the path that I think most of my family and friends had expected I would follow in the months after graduating. In the back of my mind, I always thought -- I'll probably just end up moving to New York City, I've always wanted to know what it would be like to live there and who cares if I didn't have the perfect job upon arriving, I could figure it all out with time. I was completely okay with the idea of just moving somewhere because I thought it was a place that would fit my personality, they have coffee shops right? Okay I'm sold. But was the caffeine to corner ratio what I wanted to define my future with?
So instead of following suit, I jumped. I threw caution to the wind and moved across the world.
One night, as I was sitting at a bar with a group of women each from differing countries, we began discussing our feelings of what we hoped the next year in this city would bring. It was evident everyone was searching for something, searching for some level of personal, emotional, intellectual clarity. As I was discussing my plans: to travel, to write, to capture the world, to better myself -- one of the girls said to me:
"You can be anyone you want to be here, no one knows you."
It was a statement that shifted my balance. You're telling me that I could shed the parts of myself that I felt were holding me back? That I could really start to express my creativity and mind without fear of being judged? The idea was refreshing, I could start being who I wanted to be because no one here could define me by their preconceived notions of who they thought I was. I've always been steadfast with the idea that life is about constantly redefining yourself, the act of altering bits and pieces to figure out who it is you exactly want to be. She was right, I could let go of who I was, to work towards the person I hoped to become.
I can admit that in this past year I've been selfish. I have let my personal relationships slip. I have been severely lacking in communication. And I have yet to send one person at home a postcard from Paris and for that I sincerely apologize (I really need to get my priorities in order). This has been a year of having absolutely no clue what I want, figuring out what I could potentially want, questioning these dreams and plans and therefore doubting them just to restart the entire cycle. And even though I am aware of the people I have been neglecting and know there has been radio silence on my end, I have started to realize that sometimes you have to step back and figure out things on your own.
And even though this is me taking full responsibility for my shortcomings, I am holding onto the idea that there is no better time in my life than now to be selfish. Who knows where I will be in 5, 10, 15 years? What if I'll have major responsibilities that require all of my efforts and attention? Will it ever be possible for me to truly do what I want, when I want ever again? And you may think that it's wrong to purely focus on yourself, that there is a negative connotation associated with such self indulgent behavior. But trust me when I say, be selfish for a short time. Put your feelings, your goals, your needs at the top of the list and work every day to construct whichever version of yourself you aim to be. Reevaluate your relationships, change your major, find a new job, spend time alone -- be busy trying to figure out who you want to be.
I'm going to walk the streets of Paris, sit for hours in a coffee shop working on my writing, carry my camera everywhere as if it is a physical part of me, travel to places that I've only dreamed of experiencing and find inspiration wherever I can. Because I am truly certain that there is no better time than now to do everything I want to do. To the people I love, believe me when I say it's not you because it really, really is me. I promise that in this pursuit of myself I will try to call more, let you know how much I appreciate you, and if you're lucky.. I'll send a postcard or two.