“It’s all about opportunities” … or character. In a couple months I will turn 25, aka a ‘quarter of a century‘. Here are my thoughts on how I’ve always intended to live my life and how I’ve been able to fulfill my dream: living an expatriate life.
I’m that annoying person who’s always claimed:
“If you want, you can“
This French saying basically reminds you that if you really want something, you can get it, or do it. Nobody or nothing should ever stop you from reaching your goals. And I’m the living proof that that motto isn’t only motivational talk. So, when it comes to my love of travelling, I always knew where I was going.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone Is The Hardest Part
As a kid, who did you find most inspiring? Astronauts? Scientists? F1 drivers? Firefighters? For me it was travelers. You know, real backpackers, wanderers, international reporters, professional translators travelling around the world… really anyone that could travel full time, either through their work or on savings, allowing them to discover new cultures, customs and languages.
This seemed like the dream life to me.
I don’t remember exactly when I first discovered it was actually possible not only to visit other countries but actually live there, as an expatriate. But it must have been when I was 7 or 8, through a movie or a book. What I do remember is what I thought to myself that day: I would give anything to live this kind of life.
Little did I know at that moment what my future life would be like.
Pretty soon, life answered me.
Right after finishing high school, when I was only seventeen years-old, I got accepted into a very selective university program, allowing me to study law in Dublin, Ireland for two years.
Those two years were absolutely incredible, but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have, because at the time, I struggled with my anxiety a lot: getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve learned then to enjoy and control it.
The Courage To Lose Sight Of The Shore
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – André Gide
This perfectly sums up the most important lessons I’ve learned from life so far: you will never do anything in life, unless you make a leap of faith.
I’m not saying you should take such leaps every minute of every hour of every day of your life. What I’m saying is to take a leap from time to time, when you want and are able to take it. And this does not only apply to travelling: the same goes for everything in life.
Your life can radically change from one minute to the next, so why not control those changes as much as you can?
Why wait to experience new things when you don’t know how much time is on your hands?
Think about what you’ll say to your children and grandchildren: do you want to say “I’ve always wanted to do it, but I never found the time and the courage“? Or do you want them to know you’ve done everything in your power to live your dreams and always come up with new ones?
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Defying All Odds
My main point here is this: I was not predetermined to live the life I’m currently living.
I’m a only child. My whole family is French and doesn’t speak any other language than French, except my father who speaks English in his work. I’m from a rather small city in Southeast France, Lyon. My father is an IT consultant, my mother’s an accountant. I didn’t learn any English before I was 11 years old, and even then it was only through school. I never went to any prep schools, or took international classes. I never traveled outside France during my childhood.
But: I doubled my efforts to learn English by myself. In high school, I worked much harder to get into a selective university program. Then I worked harder to stay in the university path I’d chosen. Then I worked even harder to pass the French bar exam. And for the last 4 years, I worked my a** off to be the best intern possible.
So today, I’m almost 25. I’ll be graduating as a lawyer in a month. I’ve lived in Ireland for 2 years and I’ve traveled to 3 continents and more than 10 countries. I’m learning Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and I’m getting ready to expatriate myself in Asia to work for a multinational company.
What were the chances? You tell me!
If I hadn’t doubled my efforts, I would not be where I am today in my life, but I was willing to put everything I had into it to follow my dream!
So stay tuned to my blog to follow me on my next adventures, because let me tell you right away: there will be a lot more!
This is one of the most personal blog posts I’ve written on this blog. This subject was not easy to write about. I’ve carefully chosen every single one of my words here, and I hope it inspires you to take a leap of faith, just like me!
Lilly, aka The French Hat