A Stretch of Unemployment and What I Learned in Paris Along The Way by Frantzie Bazile
Giving yourself the freedom of adventure allows you to experience things you would never imagine or wouldn’t try otherwise. You can learn much more about yourself, another person, or an experience than you could have should you have planned everything out. When I was laid off from my job in June, I felt resentful and lost, but eventually (very quickly) I felt like a 1000-pound weight had finally been unshackled from my ankles. For the first time, I wasn’t dragging and I didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectations but my own. The pressure of job searching, when I had no idea what I wanted to do next, the idea of encountering another boss I might not quite get along with, or finding a job that I’m not passionate about felt crushing. My stomach often twisted into knots at the thought.
I began sharing my apartment on the apartment-sharing website, Airbnb. I shared my plight with one of my guests. She shared that many times in her life she didn’t know what she wanted to do. In her experience, what helped the most in those moments was doing exactly what made her happy (like dance) or whatever you dreamed of doing. If you go that way, you’ll find answers, she explained to me. I took her advice and started thinking about what made me happy.
I often found myself Googling stories of people who quit their jobs and traveled the world with nothing but a backpack, while I was working full-time. I fantasized about how I could do that. One evening, my friend, Lyneka, told me about her plans to give up her address for a few short months to travel. With a little coercing, I realized this was that exact opportunity I fantasized about. I was trying to fit myself into a job title and job function and failing. I didn’t save any money. I didn’t have any real plans except searching for clarity. So, I decided that I was going to join Lyneka on her travels for one month. In that time, I set off for Europe and visited Paris for approximately four weeks, while stopping in London, Dusseldorf, and Geneva. Those four weeks became a process of re-inventing my mindset and re-discovering myself.
Before I left, I had preconceived ideas of what kinds of answers that trip might produce for me. It turned out to be so much better than anything I could have imagined. I spent most of my entire time walking in Paris and it was amazing. Since, I visited after the tourist season, the city wasn’t swarming with tourists giving me the opportunity to live like a Parisian boheme. Despite the resentment for American tourists I was told of, every single local I spoke to was friendly and willing to help. Along with eating the most delicious pastries, food, and drinking wine, I came across the most interesting people. I had no idea the people I met would inspire, motivate, and some would leave me completely enamored.
I was abroad for exactly 34 days and that was the most exciting, most important, and most interesting four weeks of my life. I already feel some changes in my demeanor, attitude and philosophy in life. I think that’s what some good time away is supposed to do. I’m easing back into my ordinary (which is still pretty awesome), but not feeling any less romanticism for Brooklyn or New York as a whole. I’ve finally accepted that I’m a super extrovert and I’m “on” when I’m around great people. I stayed open to new experiences like walking along the Seine after midnight with a stranger and said yes when I often thought I should say no. Each person and experience that I encountered made me realize something new and different about myself.
I didn’t come back with a job or answer to what I should do with my life, but I came back with new perspective. I’ve stopped stressing about not making progress on my life-long career goals. I recognize I’m making small steps in the right direction. In the bigger picture, I understand it’s better to take a little longer than to push myself into something I absolutely despise and be miserable and I’m committed to the process of my discovery and I’m enjoying myself along the way.
Do you think what Frantzie did was inspiring? What would you have done if you were in her situation? Comment below!
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