When I got into my previous relationship, I had just decided to put an end to a very unfulfilling first few months of a degree I hated, and was very lost. Let’s say my self-confidence was closer to nothingness than to its pinnacle.
My ex is someone who has got a million ideas popping in his head every minute and can never restrict himself to one. He is constantly chasing new projects to take on, which can be very inspiring but often leaves people around him feeling a bit inferior in comparison. The age difference probably added to that, having given him years to explore what I was only starting to discover.
I guess the fear of not being enough for this person prevented me from feeling empowered and motivated by his spirit. His approach to life seemed unattainable and incompatible with my personality. New people and places scare me and tend to put me in defensive mode. Being judged by others is also something that I find quite stressful. And it used to make me feel like I couldn’t achieve anything.
Most of our relationship consisted in him pursuing his dreams, and me pursuing him.
I had no idea what I wanted to do in life; and even if my new degree suited me pretty well, I was not necessarily as passionate about it as I ought to be. My life came down to going to uni during the week in my hometown and visiting him in Paris at the weekend. I knew this wasn’t healthy and fulfilling.
We had discussions over and over again about that. He always insisted on how important it was to nurture and follow our own interests and passions, despite us being in love. I agreed and wanted to find a way forward, together.
But let’s be real here, just because you acknowledge a problem and want to fix it; doesn’t mean you instantly know how to make that happen.
This is what no one tells you about chasing your dreams: the first step is to figure out what the hell they really are.
That can be difficult for many reasons. Like thinking it’s impossible and thus shutting them down before trying. Or feeling very depressed and un-hopeful about life in general, killing any spark before it’s born. So please, before you beat yourself up because you feel clueless as to what you should do on Earth, remember that although some people have known what they want since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, there is nothing wrong with falling on the other end of the spectrum.
I am not going to give you a magic recipe to remedy this feeling of inadequacy. Part of me would love to, but I simply think it does not exist.
We’ve heard it all before: each person has their own path and that is true.
For me, that looked like moving to London as an exchange student for the third and final year of my English BA. My ex was British and moved to Paris; I am French and moved to London. People often laughed when we explained our situation saying that we exchanged cities. As if we were running away from each other.
Maybe there was some truth in that?
I did not realise it at the time, but I certainly needed a fresh start. A blank canvas that would allow me to find myself without fearing people’s judgement. And maybe I also needed to distance myself from my ex, to grow and discover who I really was.
After seven months living in London, we broke up, on our three year anniversary. Love lasts three years right? It wasn’t because our love had died, but because we needed different spaces to grow.
He continued to embrace Paris while I fell in love with London more and more each day. Looking back I understand why we loved each other so much and understood each other so well. We both craved novelty, and felt the need to move to a different country to thrive.
Things were not as simple as moving abroad and feeling instantly whole. But after almost two years, I can say that I am finally feeling completely worthy and excited about my future. I’m well on my way to finding myself.
I discovered my passion for writing when saying yes to contribute to the study abroad blog of my London uni. And that has played a huge part in boosting my self-confidence. Finding something you enjoy and feel good at is magical.
I said there was no secret to figuring out what you want from life, but maybe there is.
Maybe it’s about saying yes to opportunities when they are presented to you. It’s bloody true in my case. Had I said no to write for the blog, I might have never found the courage to start my own blog, or simply realise writing is something I love so much.
Remember – you can try things out in the comfort of your own home without sharing it with anyone else. Exploring ideas and projects by yourself, without the unwanted opinion of people you care or don’t care about, might be exactly what you need. If that doesn’t help you find your way to what you love, that’s okay. Because you might still need time.
Try to live your life open to change and novelty, without pressuring yourself to have the answer to everything, and I guarantee you great things will find you.