When I turned 20 I didn't want to blow my birthday candles, because I didn't want to enter my 20's. I felt that my teenage years were over and I had to somehow, overnight, become a woman (little did I know then that turning 20 didn't automatically turn you into one). My 20's turned out to be a turbulent and exciting period. From experiencing my first love, my first kiss, my first heartbreak (and more heartbreaks that ensued after that), travelling to Europe with my longtime friend Janice, until the decision that prompted me to leave everything and move to Europe. When I found a program that allowed me to study the French language and stayed with a host family, I jumped at it almost without a second thought. I parted with the blessings and the support of my family (though it was with a heavy heart from my parents and I am forever grateful that they let me embark on this crazy adventure). At the time, I also didn't know anyone and had limited French language skills. Looking back, I was grateful of my naivety because it shielded me from all the discouraging scary thoughts & possibilities that reality unveils. But I guess those are what 20's are about right? To make mistakes, to experiment, to figure out who we are and do so without hesitation because it seemed there are endless tomorrows at our expense, with a clock ticking to age 30 when we are supposed to figure out our lives better.
Now in My 30's it felt like I have accomplished a lot and I have accomplished nothing at the same time. Let me elaborate:
In my 20's I thought that in my 30's I would be
Well off in a career that is my dream job earning tons of money, living in a cool industrial loft. In my mind, I am so rich that I can travel anywhere, support my family in whatever they might need and offer them fantastic vacations. This amazing 30 something self, is also as elegant as Audrey Hepburn and as sexy as Angelina Jolie, with gorgeous men falling all over my feet.
Well, I haven't achieved that highly realistic standard - yet, but I did accomplish several things that I am proud of;
Surviving and thriving in Paris, let me just count the ways ; 8 times moving apartments; YES! it's THAT complicated to find a steady apartment. Causes of departure:
1. Moved out from the host family place. | 2. Moved to the 15th district of Paris then had an offer for my own apartment. | 3. The owner of the apartment passed away. |4.Crazy roommate- enough said. | 5. Escaped from crazy roommate then sharing a 50m2 apartment with 3 other people. Slept in the living room with a sofa bed as my bed (crowded but the awesome roommates made it fun), | 6.Co-sharing an apartment with a family. | 7. Moved to a new apartment and after a year, it had to be sold. | 8. Moved again to a new apartment with a roommate. All of -THIS- is just the living situation part.
Finding numerous part-time jobs to support myself.
Meeting so many wonderful people that I now consider as my second family
Organizing a fashion show in Paris!
Obtaining my degree from IFM (Institut Français de la Mode), which is considered as one of the best fashion schools in Paris (I also passed one year of coffee, sweat, and tears - my blood being replaced by the amount of caffeine I consumed).
Launching this blog from scratch.
Though all of that might seem a lot, it didn't stop me from feeling lost. I blew my 30th candle with joy and melancholy. Where do I go now? Will I find and live my passion? Will I be able to support my family and myself in the future? It seems everyone moved in lightning pace with their lives, building their family, building their career, and I, I was standing at the crossroad.
Last night as I was talking to old friends, recounting our lives, something clicked. I realized that the 6 years that I have been living in France have accumulated to this point. It's funny isn't it? How sometimes the questions that other people pose, can guide you into your own understanding. It dawned on me, what I was truly passionate about is telling stories, and to learn about the process of how something / someone is built.
You see, the most beautiful things do not necessarily have the most beautiful process; there are often hard realities that mold them into it. It's the same with us, as people, our views and how we arrive at where we are was molded from our life experiences. There are remarkable stories and hidden beauty in all of it. Which is why, through this space, I hope to share these remarkable findings and a little bit of my life with you, flaws and all. At the end, we are all artisans shaping our lives into the best of our abilities. The power to shape our lives and start over lies in our hands a thousand times over.
Words by Diana Rovanio
Video source: Aesop's 'The Guild of Artisans' to find out more, click here