Tag Archives: change

To Be United in the States Of America, or Kingdom?

Growing up as a South African born female with dual citizenship, my Swiss passport has always stirred the DRD4-7R gene -also known as the “wanderlust gene”- within me. Restless anticipation ensured my head was always dreamily adrift in the clouds, and my feet never planted firmly on the ground. By age 15, I had already moved to 10 different locations, had been a pupil of 8 schools and had 0 sense of stability.

This was not a life; this was a lifestyle, a choice I had consciously made and with every passing year, with every bad decision and worse outcome my Swiss citizenship seemed more like the traveling lottery ticket I had won at birth, assuring salvation from a land that was little more than broken promises and shattered dreams. By 22, I finally cashed out and although it had never been my intention to live in the United Kingdom I somehow found myself, hopes barely intact and a future as unpredictable as the demons from my past, on English soil… And here I am.

Now, a year and a half later, my DRD4-7R gene remains the only constant in my life. I have not outgrown it, but I have grown attached to the country I am in. In stark contrast to the third-world hellhole (of astounding natural beauty, and ever-missed idyllic climate), I am in first-world heaven. The inhabitants are, for the most part, both well-educated and well-spoken, their cultural norm of social pubbing not only coincides with, but encourages, my binge drinking, their economy goes from strength to strength and their currency holds the security that has always eluded me. And yet I find myself battling the urge of upheaval. Having initiated my Hospitality Management Diploma course, an opportunity to spend time in the United States of America has never been more imminent: it is possible for me to be employed as a waitress on golf courses in America, gaining valuable work experience and satiating my hunger for adventure, if this is the path I decided to pursue. In one of the 8 schools I attended, I was taught the method of creating lists to detail the benefits of differing options. This post is my personal list for each, so that I may reflect upon, ponder over and inevitably conclude an appropriate course of action.

The USA:

  • The prospect of gratifying my wanderlust-urge, of exploring another continent and indulging in their culture and customs, integrating myself into a contrasting system to that which I am accustomed to.
  • Improving my CV by working internationally, and having it be in the field I am actually studying towards.
  • The agency will assist in handling ALL aspects of my employment, guaranteeing a smooth transition, definite employment and secured accommodation.
  • I will be staying with colleagues in my age range, sharing a home, a life. For so long I have been dependent on the hospitality and housing of those who employ me, those who befriend me or those who are concerned about me. To have a place I can call my own, albeit temporarily, will be a relief. The happiest I have ever been was when living independently, forging a life for myself unaided my the roof of my elders. It would be a shame not to relive that feeling in the near future.
  • Being able to make new acquaintances, and potentially friends. Well is it known (by those I let in) that I am often alone, though seldom lonely. I seek deep, meaningful connections and crave emotional intimacy, but struggle to form and maintain bonds as I rarely seek what I yearn for, and am finicky with whom I am willing to tie myself to. If forced into not only a working but living situation with people in my age group (and with similar interests), it is safe to assume that it is probable solid connections will be made. Due to my nature, the majority of them will be superficial but it stands to reason that I should make at least one friend I will hold dear throughout my life, even in spite of the distance that will follow once our contracts end.

The UK:

  • The currency. At present, this is my primary motivating force as the British Pound is so strong, I would basically earn double the amount of money here than I would for the same amount of hours clocked in anywhere else.
  • Being a resident, in my own abstract way, means that this is now “my place”, if ever there was one for me.
  • The familiarity. This is both a pro and a con. I am comfortable here, and have become accustomed to the country and the way in which it functions. I feel a sense of acceptance, of belonging -and yet, as always, wherever I go and whoever I am with, an outsider. However, nothing ever grows when stagnant. Except moss. And I’d rather be a rolling stone…

I don’t think I even need to go on; if money is my main motivating factor, then my decision should be made already. I have always advocated experience over monetary gain, and replacing the enriching experience of a brief international stint for financial security would be hypocritical. Besides, the UK has felt homely, and like a bird in migration I will always instinctively know when -and where- to return…

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When Weight Equals Worth

We are inundated with quotes encouraging change. “Be the change you want to see”, they tell us. “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten”, they encourage. And although married to the written word, it becomes glaringly apparent that words are powerless without the more tangible side of things –action. Positive affirmations and inspiring mementos will do wonders for the sense of spirit, but if left in the realm of thought alone and never manifested into the physical plane all we will be is Good Intention, Bad Follow-Through.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I possess neither the stature nor the metabolism of a runway model. In typical Amy fashion I miss the mark by a few centimetres, and as my frame is naturally inclined toward the hourglass figure all I can do is (primarily express gratitude, as this allows easy shading to transform what is on the canvas into a presentable portrait) work with what I have in the time that I have it. You’ve got to use what Mother Nature gave you before Father Time takes it away, after all. I am destined to live a commercially flawed existence, and although I am not designed to have the structure nor the beauty of Cara Delevingne I am here. I exist. And I am Now.

The courage to change the things I can. Age has found me putting the grams down, but picking kilograms up in their absence. Over the course of a year, I have substituted heavy nights with heavy meals, a lack of sleep with a surplus of sweets, days of caloric deficits with months of kilojoule excesses. An astounding 9 kilograms of pure fat have sought asylum on my figure, and I’ve fed in to their plight. As my stomach has distended and the denial of my enlarging hips no longer plausible after another pair of jeans has fallen prey to the damned Tumble Dryer Syndrome, so too has my self-worth diminished in a feeding frenzy.  As a woman, I have somehow bought in to the belief that my body is an ornament, that my self-worth is inversely proportional to my weight – that the less I weigh, the more I am worth. And so as the months have ticked by and the kilograms piled up my depression has been exacerbated by my unwillingness to control the gluttonous consumption of food, and the stance that an expanding waist meant a diminished worth began to bear more weight than ever. Food and I have always had a love/hate relationship; I love what it tastes like, but hate what it does to my physique. Lately I have taken to devouring intemperate amounts of food, as if filling my stomach would simultaneously rid me of my inner emptiness. Cake, cookies and crisps have slowly bound themselves to what was once akin to a dolphin; sleek and elegant, so certain of movements and now encumbered by blubber, transitioned into an ungainly whale whose entire existence has become an uncomfortable qualm. There are those that cannot comprehend this rapid alteration in appearance, who do not know the lull of avaricious immoderation. To them, I say this: some of us are able to insert so much food into our systems that it becomes acquainted with the artwork of our esophagus walls, that our uvulas are no longer employed as bouncers for the unwanted will exit on their own accord, that we ingest hoisin sauce directly off of spoons because we want to eat -not for nourishment, not to curb hunger nor satiate ourselves, but simply to be funneling food into our faces. Our stomachs may inflate and press painfully against our rib cages in demand that we free ourselves, but with every morsel we are only trapping ourselves in ourselves…

The wisdom to know the difference. I can conquer. I have accumulated addictions in barely three decades that I have capitulated to, and when the Rabbit Hole felt endless with no sign of the promised (Wonder)land in sight I have somehow found the remaining shard of strength within me to sever the ties of my vices and emerge victorious. I have read that surrendering an addiction is like putting a tiger in a cage and locking it away –but with a food addiction, you take the tiger out of that cage for a walk three times a day. I have come to accept that eating is not “black and white”, that following an Orthorexic diet isn’t sustainable and that one block of chocolate is not the equivalent of a tiger’s gaping maw, and does not warrant the overindulgence of every taste my tongue could possibly savour in one sitting. Gradually, I am learning that food does not equate to failure. And as the days go by, I am finding the courage to dismiss the surge of serotonin Lindor tempts me with, to overcome the need for the pressing pain of a ballooning belly and I am replacing it with a healthy attitude –both in lifestyle, and in outlook. Whilst I can change the size of my waist, and I can control the contents of my plate, more importantly than that I can rewire the processing of my thoughts. I have the capacity to transform an entirely negative perception into that of unconditional love and acceptance. Because whether or not I fit into my teenage jeans does not determine whether or not I am worthy of love –especially my own love.

I Am Going To Learn Dutch!

It is approaching midnight on a Tuesday and it is with unnecessary enthusiasm that I embrace this idea, as if windmills themselves have sent fairies on a one way flight of fancy straight to my susceptible self.
Well, of course I should learn Dutch. As a direct descendant of Dutch lineage, it only makes sense that I should begin my lessons on a Tuesday evening in the middle of July. And, after all, I am capable of speaking Afrikaans -it isn’t that much of a stepping stone required to bridge the gap. It’s not like Afrikaans is a derivative of Dutch, sufficient to aid me in communicating with the locals when I visit Amsterdam at the end of this year, no. Dutch is the way to go. 

It is this realisation that has my friend’s words from earlier this week dawning on me like the Planet of the Apes. “Do you know what you should do, Amy? Just start a blog. Every time you have an idea, make a decision or change your plans, blog it. That way you can stop telling me and I can just read it online. And after three months, you can look back over the posts and see how often you change your mind!”. As we were beside the ruins of a castle in the English countryside at the time, his words were as empty as the abandoned building behind us. If you place a ditzy dreamer in a landscape where her imagination can turn old ruins into new possibilities, naturally her mental chalice is going to overflow with imagery and illusions that will find her drunk with sentiment. And we have all heard of Dutch Courage… I succumb to the rush as I firmly believe I am capable of building my castles in the air, that I will follow the path I have forged in that moment with unwavering dedication. Besides, I do not know what state of indecision he refers to -perhaps the Massage Therapy course I longed to take earlier that year, but have abandoned in search of more sustainable dreams? Or could he be speaking of the way I changed the date of my plane ticket not once, but twice before finally returning to the UK? Is it my constant alteration of my intended field of employment, or the instability regarding a constant postcode? Or could it be how I cannot decide whether to visit Amsterdam whilst the summer still sheds a glimmer of the sun? Amsterdam! Oh, I really ought to learn Dutch…

And as my head drifts in the clouds, the reality of his words ground me with an undesired sobriety. I would be inclined to suggest he is right, but it is common knowledge (which he will sternly reinforce) that he is seldom wrong. And so it’s almost midnight on a Tuesday, and PERHAPS I will learn Dutch. But not tonight, as I sense a dreamer’s hangover approaching.  En er zijn geen koffie winkels in de buurt!