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Saturday, May 17, 2014

10 years

Today is my 28th birthday and the 10 year anniversary of my first official date [and kiss] with Sean.

For 10 years now, I have been an adult, in charge of my life and responsible for my choices. I have found my person and we have built this wonderful life together. We've had our ups: dating and marriage, friends and family, adventures and misadventures. We've had our downs: unemployment, loss and goodbyes. Above all, though, we have grown together into this beautiful family unit.

But lately, I could not help but notice that our 10 years have been very, very, very different from a lot of peoples' 10 years.

Most, if not all, of my friends have babies.
Most, if not all, own houses.
Most, if not all, have cell phones and big screen TVs and credit cards.
Most, if not all, have things like retirement plans and 401Ks.
Most, if not all, own at least one car.
Most, if not all, have started laying down pretty permanent roots.
They are settling into life and getting comfortable.
Most, if not all, have these really beautiful and full lives.

And sometimes it is hard not to compare and sometimes it's hard to not wonder: well, am I doing it right?
It being life and adulthood.

And I will be the first to say that I know, I know, there is no one right way to live life. But from the time you are a young child, there is a path laid out for you that 95 percent of people take. There is even a board game called LIFE that instills this message in you: graduate, go to college, get a career, get married, buy a house, have kids, buy a van, vacation at a beach over summer and then retire.

And it was when I took stock of our life that I really felt for the first time how far from that path we have strayed.

Yes, I do have a handsome, loving and dependable husband.
Yes, I do have a career and three college degrees.
But I also have two scooters and perpetual helmet hair.
I have a passport full of stamps + foreign languages.
I have a worn and tattered backpack and a trip to New Zealand planned.
I have an address that ends with: Taiwan.
I have a  Canon I love, a NOOK I cherish and a blog full of ridiculous and true stories.
I have students I adore and a track I run around every night and a blue polka dot swim suit I've worn on beaches all over the world.

The truth is, I am living a life that just does not look like a lot of other lives being lived by people I know and love. I have a hard time finding people who can understand and relate to the worries and fears and dreams and hopes that I have.

And I did this to myself.

We opted to walk away from that prescribed path and I think for the first time we are really understanding what we took on. The truth is we could walk away and move home whenever we want to, but I have a feeling we are not going to. We live a charmed life. We are thankful for the opportunities, both financial and otherwise, that we have. We like the adventure and the oddity of living in a culture that is not our own. International teaching is a dream come true. Seriously. I cannot explain how fortunate we are. But we both feel in our bones that the longer we alienate ourselves from the states and the systems in the states, the harder it will be to ever go back and have the kind of life we want and have created for ourselves by moving abroad. We would literally have to start from scratch.

So, most likely, this is our life: expat teachers on a never ending adventure.
For now, at 28 & 29 years old, that sounds awesome, right?

But what about when we are 40?
Or 60?
What about when we have kids [yes, I've been having dreams of being big + pregnant]?
What about never having a city that is our city or home that is our home because every five or so years we'll move to a new country?
What then?

And that's when I start to question: are we doing it right?

Forging a new path is scary because there is no one in front of you cutting away the brush telling you how to get from Point A to Point B. You have to trail blaze and hope to avoid the worst potholes and dangers and try your damnedest to enjoy the journey and the destination because honestly you have no idea where you will end up.

I know there is no right way to do it. But there sure are safer, more predictable ways to do it and some days I yearn for that. But we choose to forgo that route.

I can honestly say that I have no clue where we will be in two [or 10] years. Sean and I talk about: where to next? We both love Taiwan but are ready to think beyond Taiwan. We could literally be living anywhere on the globe: Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America.
I can honestly say I have no idea when Sean and I will be brave enough to say: yup, this is life in ____________ [insert random country here] and we will never really figure this out so let's just have a kid.
I can honestly say that I have no idea if we will ever own a car or house or big screen TV.
I can honestly say that I don't know if we will ever live in America again.
I can honestly say I am not sure I will ever want to live in America again.

And all of this is huge and scary and a lot to take on.

We have this life of constant change and adventure and excitement to look forward to and some days it all just feels a little too exciting and I wish there was someone in front of us cutting away the brush so we could see what is next and plan for it but I'm realizing that is something I am just going to have to let go of because that is not in the cards for us and we dealt ourselves this hand.

The last 10 years have been something I could never have even dreamed of [and I am a pretty imaginative person] and I am so curious about what the next 10 will hold and where they will take us.

The one thing I am sure of?
In 10 years, I will be on a date with Sean enjoying our anniversary.
And for that reason alone I know everything will be okay.

Add your comment

  1. Congratulations on your anniversary! So nice! You are right, if J and I compare our lives with those of our friends at home they are so different and we are certainly the odd-balls. It can be really challenging sometimes but we love all of the opportunities we have abroad.

    1. Thank you :) I don't know how I could move back home and give up all of the adventure + travels.

  2. Happy anniversary! As a fellow expat international teacher who is also 28 (for ten more days!) I definitely understand where you are coming from! There are so many unknowns and that is half the fun! Great post.

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

    1. Yay! Another ISS teacher! I looked at your blog and am very interested in your experience in Venezuela. And I totally agree: not knowing is part of the fun. But sometimes it really, really stresses me out too.