You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything about teaching English in Sicily on the blog. I might not have been writing but I have been learning. So, what’s the deal?
I had a great job in a nice city called Catania. I only worked 3pm-8pm. It was sunny and lovely most of the time. Rent and food was super cheap. I was learning Italian and was reunited with Mr Italy!
And yet…. I was so unlike myself. I found myself getting more and more timid in social situations, my Fibromyalgia symptoms were driving me insane, I was ratty and sleepy almost all of the time. I mostly stuck to my bedroom, watching way too much TV. I barely went out, I was sleeping roughly 12 hours a night. I found work increasingly stressful, for absolutely no reason- I know how to teach, but it caused me so much anxiety. It dawned on me after a few months that things needed to change.
I spent the next few weeks mooching around the internet for other opportunities, classes to attend, as well as all the places in Sicily I could plan to visit. I even went all out and applied to teach English in beautiful Austria with a not-for-profit company. I remember Skyping one of my dearest friends and we discussed my situation.
He advised me to try to see through the fog. He said I was like a car parked on the side of a road, simply waiting around because it ran out of fuel. I can’t see ahead because of all the fog; I’m stuck. He looked at me in the eye (well through the laptop at least) and told me to
“fuel that baby up and keep on going! The road is stretching out ahead…”
The conversation with my friend triggered something within me and I felt like finally getting off my a** after months of laziness and shaking my life up. Comfort and security isn’t always right. I realized I needed to do what was best for me in this moment in time. I needed to be present. If I’m only doing a job because I need the money or experience for the future, or I’m only staying somewhere unhappily because maybe it’ll get better, I am not living in the present. I need to be learning, active. I’m done with being passive.
Be brave. It’s incredibly brave to take charge of your life, he told me. To acknowledge that you’re not where you want to be right now. To make a decision. To decide to leave. To make a new plan. To go on a new adventure. To take control of your life, as opposed to letting life pass you by. It does NOT make you a failure. Will a change of direction make you happier? Then how is it failing? Will a new opportunity now open even more doors for you later? Then how is it failing? “But I’m always quitting things”, I told him. It’s true. I quit university (twice), I get absorbed in one idea or another and then forget about it all, I promise I’ll do things and never do them. He just smiled, “quitting is not the same as failing”.
The next morning I opened my emails and there it was– confirmation of my application from the charity in Austria. Did I feel in control and alive and excited? No. A wave of anxiety traveled right through my body deep into my bones and I couldn’t shake it off. I went to my usual cafe for un panino and while I was waiting for the waiter to bring it over, I crashed.
It’s very hard to describe an anxiety attack after it’s already happened. I couldn’t breath well, my vision was blurred, I was way too hot. I felt panicky and like everyone was staring at me (no-one was staring). I felt sick to my stomach and quickly ran home. I sat on my cold stone bedroom floor to cool down and tried to think rationally but it was like my mind was doing it’s own thing. The next thing I knew I was calling work, crying, and telling them that I’m not coming in today, or tomorrow- or ever; I’m going home.
I booked a flight leaving the next day and called my friend at work who was worried why I wasn’t there. She told me to close the curtains and sleep if I wanted and to try not to care about a single thing, even for just an hour. I did just that until I physically couldn’t stay still any longer and ransacked my room packing everything into my cases. I hadn’t told my boyfriend yet, he had his first day at work and I didn’t want him to leave on my account. He came over that night and did what I really needed: held me.
The next morning we sang “Country Roads” and “Go Your Own Way” at the top of our voices all the way to the airport and then said our goodbyes. This is just temporary, I told him. I just need to sort some things out. “And I’ll be here,” he said, “loving you all the while.”
Have you felt a need to shake up your life completely? Even if you felt like it was failing? Do you ever have an urge to just be ‘home’? Let me know below, it’d be great not to feel alone in this. xxx