I consider myself to be a self reflective person, but sometimes, I am barreling full steam ahead with full on excitement. Those moments of looking at the bigger picture and asking myself what’s the plan come in the moments right before bed, or right when I wake up. With Michele though, even those moments aren’t particularly pensive as we excitedly plan our days, reflect on thoughts, discuss everything most waking seconds together. Hmm… I should get back to meditating.
Recently, while searching for a photo in Paris from the fall of 2017, I came across a treasure trove of photos and blog entry drafts from that summer and it was like watching myself on the precipice of an evolution.
2017: I knew I needed a change from NYC, I was stuck in a rut. A rut doesn’t necessarily always seem bad. Sometimes it comes discussed as a cozy nest. I had a really great year professionally, but while my travel industry friends were always on the move, I felt tethered to my apartment in NYC and it became such a financial burden. People stay in relationships because of great real estate in NYC. It’s a tough market! Finally, I got the opportunity to make a change. As my mom announced that we’d be heading to France in July, I let her know that I’d be staying on when she returned. I didn’t have an exact plan, in fact, I wanted to move to London, but I knew that this would be the first step to getting there.
So there I was in Brooklyn, forging ahead into plans, packing for an indefinite stay in Paris, I planned to be in Europe for at least all of fall. I studied abroad before, I lived in Italy but this was different, there was no safety net. I didn’t really have any friends in Paris, I didn’t speak French. But this wasn’t forever, and it was something I had to do. I had to follow through, didn’t I? I’d just started dating someone. Stating on our first date “Don’t get attached because I’m leaving in 2 weeks.” He was great. “What is this timing?” I thought. I cried leaving my apartment. I avoided saying goodbye to my close friend Jen because that would make it too real. She lived down the street and over the past few years we’d become fixtures in one another’s lives.
I spent a week in Paris and Marseilles with my mom before I bid her adieu and went upstairs to my AirBNB and cried. What was I doing?! I had wine, bread and cheese for dinner and watched a torrent stream of my Housewives. The next day, I woke up in my amazingly sunny and charming AirBNB and smiled.
This was my time.
I’m from New York. Like many of my peers from Amherst, I came back here after graduating. I traveled extensively at one point leaving NYC a few times a month but NYC was home. My longest stints away from home in my adult life were going to Milan; still it was familiar I studied abroad there and had a close relationship with a family; London, I had family and friends there. Paris was different, this was truly making my place in a new city. I explored Paris, took in everything. Spent a LOT of time alone in cafes, reading books. Went on few dates. Blocked a lot of people on Hinge and Bumble respectively. There was one particular evening where I sat in a cafe, on a lovely date but he was confused by how distracted I was by the next table. They’re so chic and French I told him. He laughed. Really, yes, they were but seeing this ground of about 7 young men and women, I desperately missed my friends from home. I wanted to be apart of the smiles, laughs and gasps. I think I probably stared a little too long, laughed a little too much. My date thought I was totally weird. Hosted visiting friends, made new friends with old family friends and really found my little neighborhood in Canal St. Martin. Got lost on the buses, walked everywhere. “Studied” French via Rosetta Stone everyday. There were days were I walked around, soaked the city in, but I didn’t have a true conversation with another person. Felt inspired and reinvigorated. Each day was something new.
I went back to NYC at the end of September to speak at a conference, spending 3 days in town before I flew to Copenhagen and then Djibouti to a Yemeni refugee camp with Norwegian and UNICEF. Afterwards the camp, I continued on to London and settled into a new life there by October. I explored neighborhoods outside of Notting Hill, met Michele and now we’re beginning our journey.
Thinking about that month and a half in Paris in the Fall of 2017 makes me so happy. I was so naive as to think as, I’m just going to do this and “pop back into” my life in NYC and nothing will have changed. I wouldn’t have changed. But my subconscious knew. Deep in my soul, there was a rumble, it came out in a shudder as I left my apartment. My avoidance of saying goodbye to Jen.
I knew there was change coming and I was slowing measuring my courage to accept it.
Whether it’s preliminary research for exploration, a desire to mix things up with a trip. A desire to learn about another culture. Or maybe you just wanted to satiate your wanderlust through pretty pictures. I wish for you my NAPW community, the courage of change and the true pleasure and luxury of getting to know yourself on your own terms.
I wish for you, this peace of mind.
Your journey is very inspiring 🙂
Thank you so much Jennifer! I really appreciate it.
Oh yes doll… amazing piece. This spoke to me.
Thank you! I’m glad to have touched you and I hope it gave you a boost to make any change or do any endeavor that’s on your mind.
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Thank you for this amazing post Nneya! Although from a few years ago, I am so glad to have stumbled upon your words as they very much resonate with my thoughts and feelings today. The feeling of being in a rut, the appetite for change…I have all the feels and I am definitely hoping for that courage to fill within as I try to step forward into something new.
And can I just say you are such an inspiration! You have had an incredible evolution and seeing you continue to blossom on your journey as travel expert, wife and mother to be is amazing and such a beautiful reminder to indeed, find the courage to change and allow ‘the true pleasure and luxury of getting to know yourself on your own terms’,
Thank you and keep shining!