Late again with this post, although this time I have a pretty good excuse. My parents were in Paris the last five days and I’ve been spending most of my time with them. Just ignore the fact I had planned to write this BEFORE they came out. I’m also writing this in-between mouthfuls of mini eggs that my sister sent out with them. I opened them with the intention of having one or two…who was I kidding?? So now I’m sat with an empty packet, staring at an empty page.
I’m a serial over thinker. I can worry about something for days, weeks, months even. It will play on my mind and I’ll get myself really wound up about it or really anxious. As you know I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do when I finish au pairing. The original plan was to stay in Paris and find full time work back in marketing and I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to follow through with this… it’s what I’ve told everyone I want to do. I started doing research into jobs out here, and in particular the sector I want to move into. I was finding that a) there weren’t loads available, b) the majority were advertised solely in French and required applicants to be bilingual and c) those that didn’t require fluency tended to be internships, something I can’t afford to do. I started to think that staying might not be a viable option for me. With that I started to worry, what was I going to do? Where was I going to work? Was I going to have to go back to England?
This also induced feelings of failure. I wasn’t going to achieve what I had set out to here in Paris, and what I had told everyone I was going to do. My host family have a good friend who works as a marketing consultant and they put me in touch with her. I emailed and asked for some advice, I explained my current situation, what I had done before I au paired and what I was looking to do afterwards. I asked if it was a normal requirement to speak French fluently in most marketing roles. I know that could seem like a stupid question when you want to work in another country but many international companies operate in English. I also attached my CV to get her perspective on that. When she replied it was as I thought, fluency will be important, she also suggested I add a photo to my CV something I found interesting as we’re encouraged not to do that back in the U.K. She encouraged me to continue my studies and perhaps consider teaching English until my French is at a level that will allow me to work. I’ve decided to continue learning French back in England…teaching isn’t something I want to do.
I had to start thinking about coming back. At first that felt like a failure, but I knew I needed to change my mindset. A change in plans does not equal failure. I went to an international women’s day talk a couple of years ago and one of the panellists repeated something someone had once said to her: ‘God writes in crooked lines’. That really stuck with me, and I thought of that quote when I knew I was probably going to be returning to England. Life doesn’t move in a straight line from A to B, there will be deviations and set backs and other routes we might have to take to reach our end goal. So I decided to start thinking of all the positives of coming home. Being near family and friends is pretty much top of that list. I know I’m not on the other side of the world but it’s always nice knowing you can arrange to meet up with friends on a whim, or easily decide to go home to your parents for the weekend. Knowing the language is another, I’ve mentioned before that it’s just harder being in a country where you can’t eloquently express yourself or talk to others. It can be frustrating at times and can definitely make things a lot harder. Although I’ll continue learning French it will be nice knowing I can articulate myself easily again. Familiarity; I know how everything works back home. I know where to find all the things I need and want. In a nutshell, day to day life will be easier. Less red tape, less of the unknown.
I also know that moving to Paris in the future isn’t out of the question. I’ll be looking to work for a large company to gain a different experience from my last job and in large companies other opportunities such as working abroad or working somewhere else are more likely to come up. So it’s not a never going to make it in Paris situation, more of a not going to make it right now. Which I now know is ok. It’s not a failure on my part, I was the only one putting pressure on myself to stay here. I’m going to continue to look at jobs both in Paris and London but I’ve accepted that London is probably where I’m going to end up. And the positives of that are huge, may more than I listed above.
Something else I’ve been thinking about a lot is the pressure I’ve put on myself to do well at school here (still feels weird saying I’m attending school at the age of 28). I’m a perfectionist, and I want to do well. In the monthly school tests I was gutted the first time one of my grades was lower than the previous…even though it was a really good score. I was getting stressed out by the things I didn’t understand which then lead to me getting in my own way. I was worrying about the tests more than I should, essentially I was creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. And for what? I’m working hard and it’s really not the end of the world if I don’t do SO well on one monthly test we sit in class. So I’ve decided to not worry about it. I’ll continue to work hard but I’m not going to get myself worked up when I’m finding something difficult. If I do well in the monthly test, great, if I don’t do as well as I’d like well that’s ok too. This is another example of standards I’ve been setting for myself that I didn’t need to. It was something I could change, so I did.
All said and done, I’m learning to be a little less harsh on myself which in turn makes my life less stressful and my anxiety levels lower. Both positive things right? Taking a little detour isn’t a failure if you’re still going in the right general direction. And that’s exactly what I’m planning to do.