In 2011 when A and I first moved to Norway, we didn’t know what to expect. We moved to a strange country, with strange food customs and a strange language, knowing nothing about where we would be and how long we were going to stay. We got on a plane, had a way-too-expensive two week rental place, less than five hundred USD and two suitcases and absolutely no idea how we would manage. There is no other way of describing it: we gave up everything to be with each other. I gave up my little safety-net world, quit my education and job, left my family to be with A. A gave up his apartment, a steady job and great opportunities to be with me. We both left everything behind we worked so hard for to build up. We both left friends and families, jobs and a bunch of stuff behind, just to see whether or not we were the real deal. Just to see whether or not we could make it, without an ocean between us. We were crazy! We had student debts that needed to be paid off, we had never lived together more than three months at a time and decided to move halfway across the world, just to see if we could manage. It’s totally bananas, if you ask me. And yet, the best decision that we ever made.
I was devastated, heartbroken and miserable for the first few days. The reality of the decision we just had made, set in and I did not think it would be this hard. Much harder than I ever thought it could be to move so far, to be closer to each other. When we left our homes, the US and Austria, I felt like I took on the world, with nothing but a broken compass, having to find my way through a crazy jungle-maze.
Everything I attempted seemed to be failing. I couldn’t get into school, because I didn’t speak the language. I tried to get work and I sent out millions of CVs (for any type of job) with no luck. Discontent within me grew from day to day and A knew but was helpless. I thought about going back to Austria, I thought about going back to the US, I thought about everything and nothing and I just couldn’t figure out what to do. I was broken inside and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to fix it, how to fix me, but I knew I had to fix it, sooner rather than later. I knew that if I didn’t fix it, I wouldn’t be able to fix my compass and that compass was irreplaceable. If not the direction it showed me, the idea of it is what I needed to hold on to. The idea of where I wanted to be in the future, what I wanted of life, where to go and what to do. If I didn’t fix myself, I knew that all of this could slip through my fingers like sand and I would be stranded in a sea of broken hope.
So I tried to identify the problems that I could fix and attacked them with every little thing I had left in me, and believe me, at this point it was barely something. But failure wasn’t an option, so I sent out another million CVs, learned the language to the best of my ability and tried to not worry about the next step and whether I could ever find my way out of the maze with my compass, that was changing directions almost as often as a healthy heart beats per second.
Six years later I have two-part time jobs and just finished my masters degree (although I’m still anxiously waiting for my defense date, which I won’t have for another few weeks). It was not easy, nothing of it and more than once I questioned my sanity, wondering if I should just give up. Wondering whether all of this was worth it, wondering if it would ever get easier. Most of the time my compass is spinning like crazy, as if close to several magnetic fields and no idea where to point to. I’ve thought about tossing my compass more than once too, figuring what’s the worst thing that could happen? But then I am reminded that the broken compass has helped me through the worst and best of times.
I would go one direction and my compass would point to another and I would really think about whether to follow the compass or not. Every decision I make has consequences. I learnt that the hard way, so I think about everything twice over, making sure that whatever way I go I double check my compass. Sometimes it’s okay to ignore the compass and change your path, other times you desperately want to hold on to the path, although you can’t see the jungle because of all the creepy crawlers and trees. The compass isn’t the answer to everything, it’s a tool to help you guide through the crazy-every day life that we endure. The compass is the way to adventures, the way to a live of wonderfulness and absurdity.
My broken compass led me to A and the amazing life we are fortunate to live and explore together. It led me down so many dark roads, that I often wondered whether compasses were outdated tools of a past life. But my broken compass also led me to the point where I am at now, at the beginning of a new chapter. I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know what to expect, what to do, whether I should do anything at this point. For the first time in years, I am standing at several cross-roads with my broken compass in my hand and know that whatever step I take next, is going to be a wonderfully weird one.
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