With the new year, I have gratefully received several new students. After the basic greetings and exchanges, my students love to pry any and all information out of me. They consider me to be absolutely insane since I left amazing America to live abroad in broken Europe. [enter gasp here] In their eyes I am the crazy blonde American. Italians are not shy about asking for personal information – actually, it is safe to say that they are generally not a shy breed. The rundown of introductory questions goes something like: what’s your name, where do you live, what do you do, how much money do you make? As my students and I get to know each other a little better, they eventually ask the notorious question: what do you want to do with your life? This immediately makes me question my existence and think ‘I thought I was already doing something with it?’ Yet with their further probing I somehow continually seem to find myself spilling my personal dreams, goals, and plans with semi-strangers. Perhaps it is a good thing they are not fluent in English and most of my tangent goes over their heads.
My outpouring tends to cover a brief synopsis of my last two years in America and then a re-cap of my life overseas thus far. I attempt to convey that I am not sure where I am meant to end up or what I am meant to do with my life. However, I do know what makes me happy and I will continue to put all of my efforts into doing just that. I know what I excel at and I know, from countless trials and errors, what I do not take pleasure in.
I was born with wanderlust running through my veins. I have always looked toward the next move, next adventure, next challenge. Standing still is not enough for me. I am not ready to plant my roots, I need my time to soar and see. Before I got my fix by living in various States and submerging myself in other cultures; yet now it is by visiting the cities I studied about, discovering ruins along hidden paths, jumping into the open sea, and indulging in local wine and music.
I also know that I value my role as an educator. Teaching History or English has been a wonderful experience, but the true essence of educating is what holds a place in my heart. We are in a constant state of learning; whether it is information, a language, life lessons, or about ourselves. I like being part of this learning process for someone else and being granted the opportunity to help shape their outlook on life.
How a job makes me feel has always been more important to me than the job title. I have had plenty of “you’re just a teacher” conversations to know that it’s not what I do but how I feel doing it that matters. Over the next 10 years I could have 10 different jobs or no jobs at all. I could still be living paycheck to paycheck or I could have a nest-egg stashed safely away in my bank. Nevertheless, my career does not and will not define me. What I do with every job I have, the influence I have on others, and the lifestyle of which I live will define me.
So when my students ask if I plan to stay in Italy forever or what is next on my agenda, I simply respond with “I’ll be wherever I am happy.” No one knows where they will end up. We can only dream, attempt to plan and organize, and then we leave the rest up to fate. You can work hard to achieve a goal but if you are not meant to reach it - you won’t.
The months are flying by and I have found myself contemplating my choices for September. Where should I go after Croatia? When you start to open your eyes to the world and follow your heart, you will find yourself with endless opportunities in front of you. I am not tied down, my responsibilities are not handcuffs. I literally have the world at my feet and I just need to pick a path to travel down.
I have considered another year of teaching English in Italy, or rather in Eastern Europe. Other days I find myself set on teaching in South East Asia to save money and experience a completely different culture. Then my dreams of South America resurface and I picture myself by the beaches in Brazil. Or perhaps I could work on a super-yacht and sail the seas for a few months. Maybe I could go back to school and get a Master’s in psychology. I used to want to be a vet? What about an artist? A restaurant owner? Stay at home mom? Travel writer? An astronaut? Princess Consuela Banana-hammock? It is like I am a free-spirited child again with big dreams – I can be and do anything.
I could worry and stress over which path to take. The old Amelia probably would have already made a pros and cons list and an intricate web comparing my various opportunities. Yet, if I have learned one thing in the past year, it is to go with the flow. Whether I lose sleep on travel plans or not, I will end up where I am meant to be. However, the old Amelia is not completely dead and buried so I do find my mind scanning my “mental list of future plans” - but I quickly snap back to reality with a smile, knowing living in the present is much more worthwhile than worrying about the future.