This summer I have unexpectedly done a huge amount of soul-searching. In March, I was determined to make $15,000 waitressing and go into the school year feeling financially stable (somewhat) and exhausted from serving endless numbers of tables. However, when I got the call that I would be headed to Brussels, my work ethic flew away like dust in the wind and my focus was entirely different. I was now determined to have a great time in Europe for at least a month.
Since I had not gone completely insane (and I knew my finances were still hurting from my two previous Eurotrips), I decided to do it on a budget. I started off in great hands because transportation and my expenses for the first leg of my tour were covered by the Delegation of the EU to Canada. *I cannot express enough gratitude towards them! So what to do when you didn’t expect to be in Europe and you don’t want to spend tons of money? Well, visit friends of course. Most of my European connections lie in Scandinavia so I spent three weeks (and even expended my trip a bit while over there) in Denmark and Sweden.
I felt like I had gone home. So much so, that I wasn’t able to write anything about it due to the emotional turmoil that came along with thinking about the fact that I am not Danish, as much as I try to pretend I am via wearing converse and all black.
But now that summer is almost over I am feeling quite reflective on what this trip back to Denmark had really done for me. When I got back to Canada I was of course sad, and it was not easy going back to serving when I had just had a fun, carefree European experience. It was the reality check of all reality checks. At the same time, a friend and coworker of mine announced that she would be moving to Arctic Bay in the middle of August.
Yes, Nunavut. Yes, that’s further from Ottawa than Venezuela. Except North.
Her mentality was that she needed to make money serving, but at the same time, she needed to take advantage of every chance to have fun with her friends, too. She dragged me in with a simple phrase: YOLO.
Yes, I am aware that saying You Only Live Once a la Drake is a little annoying, and quite frankly, I don’t even believe it! But the idea of living like you only have one life is an easy way to enjoy your time here on earth without worrying too much about the future.
So I went from determined to serve tables 7 days a week and beef up my bank account to… make sure I was always having a good time.
But something was holding me back. I read the book “The Defining Decade” by Dr. Meg Jay while in Europe. I read a chapter a day when I was alone to try and really get the full meaning of the book. It’s all about how the 20s are the most important decade, and we need to seize the opportunities that are presented to us to move forward with our careers, love lives, and health before it’s too late. So, I felt a bit of stress coming from what I learned from that book. It even sparked a few of us at work going “What would Meg do?” when faced with the temptation to eat white bread, have a triple vodka soda, etc.
So, the combo of WWMD and YOLO was the source of many internal panic attacks when deciding if I should just go out, take the day off work and do something fun, work on resumes etc. But something really great came out of this combo of two different mantras. I was able to do two really important things that I usually have a hard time doing because anxiety doesn’t allow it.
- I had an amazing time with friends and family and while I was not working I really didn’t think about how much money I “could be” making, something that I have struggled with in the past.
- I decided to jump start my CAREER, regardless of the pay cut.
So, at the beginning of August I decided to quit serving (hopefully) forever for a few reasons. The main reason was that I was mentally exhausted and needed to YOLO a bit before school. The other reason is that while serving I have no energy to do anything to get my career going as a journalist. I keep thinking “well I’m still in school so it’s okay if I don’t have a job in my field.” But no—extending my degree does not mean I can extend the time I do a job that doesn’t advance my life.
Phew. Since I’ve been jobless, I have made a few steps career-wise (which are all under wraps!) and I’ve also spent quite a few days watching daytime talk shows and snuggling with my puppy. So it’s a bit of both—I’m doing nothing yet I feel more productive and like I am moving forward than I have in years.