…but where? — and do we really, truly want to?
When you’ve lived most of your life reaching for a better life, making one decision after another in the pursuit of financial security for your family, it comes as a bit of a shock when you’re finally there! Our lives up until this point have been largely reactionary, but our reactions and our choices have landed us in a financial position that most hard-working people don’t reach until they’re a few decades older than us. We worked harder, faster and took a lot of chances that are only really possible when you’re young and full of energy. Now we all of a sudden have the freedom of choice and I feel wholly unqualified for making those choices!
I feel crass just talking about it but after selling our fixer upper in London earlier this year, a lot of options opened up to us. This was the dream, so why am I so scared?
I’ve been nervous about writing this post honestly as I am completely aware of how lucky I am to even be experiencing this dilemma. I really, truly know how it feels to not have financial security and to feel that ache in my chest when I hear someone much better off than me complaining about their situation. If you are reading this, please know that I’m honestly not complaining. I am so grateful for all we have achieved and that there were opportunities open to us that we were in a position to take.
A younger me could never have imagined how financial security and opportunity could leave me frozen in fear. The younger me would have slapped my older self and stormed off in a huff at the very suggestion that we wouldn’t be 100% satisfied and happy at this juncture! The younger me would have been amazed at the prospect of even being able to afford the plane tickets from Germany to Australia without buying them on credit, let alone having so many opportunities available once we land.
I’m just frightened. Plain and simple. Frightened of messing it up. Frightened that we’ve made all these decisions, these sacrifices, taken leaps and chances that have fortunately paid off and that at this crucial moment in our lives we’re going to stuff it up! Having options means making decisions. What if we make the wrong one? What if we choose a life, choose a lifestyle, choose a location and a future that is all wrong for us? What’s more, how do people make life decisions without adrenaline and pressure propelling them forward? We’ve become to accustomed to the now-now-NOW that having time to take a deep breath and think all the options through is throwing me for a loop!
There’s comfort in limited choice that I didn’t recognise when I indeed only had limited choice. Choosing between A or B is doable (especially if most people are choosing A and you can feel like a proper rebel by choosing B!). A, B, C through Z is a lot more intimidating!
When we move home we have the money from our previous house sale to pick a path we’d like to pursue. We’re not tied to any one location in Australia (though a short’ish commute to a major city is a plus for future job options) and we have so many ideas of what we’d like to do banging around in our heads.
Our medium term goal is to become more self-sufficient and we have a shortlist of places we think we could make that work. We however are city kids with next to no experience in country Australia. We’ve also just spent almost a decade in one of the largest cities in the world with: the convenience of public transport right outside our door; the luxury of being able to order online and have delivered to our home pretty much anything we can dream of within 24 hours; the long aquired adjustment to the constant rumble of human habitation around us all day and all night (in the skies above, the streets below and through the shared walls on either side of our home); access to the convenience of shopping at all hours of the day or night and the comfort of being around so many people all the time, always knowing someone will hear you scream (or cough, hum, flick a light switch).
I’m certain that if we were to make our final leap to self-sufficiency right off the bat then the acres of empty space and silence would be too much, too soon. We need to ease into it a little. I’m not even sure how we’re going to cope with suburbia, let alone living out on a property.
I’ve grown to resent moving around so much. Part of my desire to return home now, despite being positive 5 years ago that I would never go back to Australia, is to find some grounding again, become rooted somewhere, stop having my environment constantly changing. My brain hurts from too much change, too often, too many times.
I am also finding it very difficult to give up my English roots. If times were different and property all over the U.K wasn’t so expensive I’d have happily ended up on a rural property in the U.K rather than Australia. I also know in my heart that opportunities for my 3 boys are much better in Australia right now and all three are only years away from deciding where and how they want to make their way in the world without Mum and Dad.
I’ve never felt that I belonged anywhere really. Always an oddball, I was the weirdo in school with no friends for the most part, who would rather go talk to a tree than to a real life person (assuming I was even going to school that day, week or month). I secretly hoped when moving to the U.K that I would find ‘my people’. In some ways I did, though differently to how I’d pictured. In London we migrated towards friendships with other Aussie Expats. There is camaraderie in both being the kinds of Australians who get the itch to leave home and follow through with your dreams. None of those friendships were lasting, they were friendships born out of a shared experience.
I did eventually find a dear friend who lets me pour out my heart, my fears, my struggles and listens and reciprocates. Leaving her will be the hardest part of leaving Europe. If only I could smuggle her with me in my luggage and we could live together on a crazy, quiet acreage away from the rest of the world. Truth be told we’d probably both go insane from the empty space, but we’d slip into insanity together and the conversation would be marvelous.
I’m both itching to find stability and scared that I’ll hate it when I find it. I feel like a fish out of water but I don’t know if my ‘home’ pond will feel any better to this weird controlled swimming zone called Germany.
When you’ve lived in a country other than your homeland, you will never be quite the same again. It’s more than just the British twang to my Aussie accent. It’s more than the sum of my experiences in the U.K. It’s more than all the new things I’ve seen and done that words can’t describe or express. It’s more than the changes in me because my homeland will have changed without me present to see and react to the changes as they pop up one by one. Australia and I, we’ve grown apart. Can I breach the gap and ever feel ‘at home’ again?