It seems just like yesterday when I sat in my new home, wondering if I was really going to be able to do all of this. Wondering if I could handle my workload, living in a new country, taking care of myself (i.e. cooking for myself!) all starting now. I wondered if all of this was just a huge mistake and that if I was really ready for any of this. Should I have stayed in Norway? Should I have waited for something else to come around? Could I really cook for myself and take care of everything myself? Was I really ready to start a PhD, ready to start a new chapter, ready for a life where A wasn’t living with me for the time being? Was I capable of doing anything, really?
I had a little panic attack hit me right there and then. A freight train ran over me and got me right in the heart. A huge noise burst all the thoughts in my head and I felt a huge sense of smallness. And the worst thing was, that I just couldn’t call A, seeing that he was on a plane on his way back to Norway. I felt trapped and felt like my chest was closing in on me, as if the weight of a thousand sorrows sat on top of my chest, slowly choking out my light. And no, I am not prone to over-dramatization or panic attacks for that matter. Generally, I’m low-key and okay with everything unless I am tired and hungry and in desperate need of chocolate (that’s a pro-tip about how I operate, if I ever written one).
Three months later and I can honestly say, you will never be ready for anything and yet, you will persevere. I can’t tell you how many meetings I had where I felt like everyone spoke a different language and I was not supposed to be there. So many times where I nodded to questions asked and wondering what on earth just was said. Way too many times, where at the end of the meeting I looked at my notes and asked myself, where do I go from here? The questions don’t stop and the answers don’t come either. It’s an odd feeling when you enter any room and feel like everyone else knows so much more than you. I tried playing catch-up but the truth is, there is never enough time to catch up, there is just enough time to fake it until the next breather.
The feeling I had that very first day, when I arrived in Ireland in August could have easily crushed my spirits. The subsequent feelings of not belonging could have robbed my soul and in the end I could come home every day from work and still ask myself why I chose this path and whether I really belong.
But I don’t. I don’t allow myself to ask that question because the truth is, I do belong because I want to belong, because after many years of searching, I have finally found what I loved with every fiber of my being. I really am living my dream (although I don’t foresee myself feeling less confused any time soon). It’s not easy, it’s back-breaking hard work (mentally speaking, physically – that’s a completely different story). I work an average of 10 hours a day, I go home and work some more and then I pass out. I wish I could say that this is only temporary, but I doubt it, because some journeys you know are only going to get more difficult. But I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world. I have in my life never felt so happy about work, as I do right now. I don’t want to say that I am handling myself well, I don’t even want to go so far, as to say that I seem to have it all together, I don’t really. But I am here and I am staying.
In every new situation you encounter, you will always feel like you’re imposing on someone else’s territory. You feel like you’re the Cadbury cream egg amidst chocolate covered cherries (co-incidentally two chocolaty things I don’t really care for, but I eat them all the same because A loves them). And honestly, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away. There is always someone that knows more than you, always someone that is more experienced, always someone that just has everything together, but then again, there is also only one you. So, who cares if you’re a hot mess (which I am constantly), or that you still get lost on your way to work (every single time… you’d think I would have learnt by now…), or that on a Friday evening all you can do is crash and burn and it stays that way until Monday morning? (That being said on the weekends I really just work from the comfort of my bed, if you want to meet me then, I’d have to be with my cozy soft blanket wrapped around me).
I have no pro-tip on how not to feel like an imposer, but I can say this. Live every moment of it. It’s been three months since I moved to Ireland. Three months of a constant craziness, three months of imposing, three months of questioning myself about anything and everything, three months of crazy adventures that I never thought possible. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I would be hoping on a plane every other week to get to a meeting, to get to a conference, to take a small time out for myself, I would have been laughed whole-heartily but that’s exactly what happened. So here are a few snapshots of the last three months and a life I never dreamed possible.