Life with your nose pressed against the glass: lessons in gratitude

by Annie on January 17, 2012

Sydney, AUS

Lately, I’ve spent many an evening in my bed, relaxing and elevating my aching feet. Since one week after arriving in Sydney I have been a full-time working waitress at a hotel down on Sydney Harbour. At the job I’ve met some amazing people, some of my first new friends in Sydney, and some of whom I hope to stay friends with. But the problem is that I have been using my 4:20 am alarm clock as an excuse to do next-to-nothing. I come home from work, sometimes after working 9-10 hours and sometimes after just 7 and all I want to do is sit down. Plans of hopping on the bus to visit friends in Bondi are foiled when I realize that if I close my eyes at this moment I would be out cold and, anyway, I have to be up at the same time tomorrow and the 45 minute commute would get me home past my bedtime.


Annie @ the beach - Sydney, Australia

Where I should be.

The truth is that I have just been making excuses for myself. Sure, I’m tired. Sure, I have ridiculous working hours. But guess what? This is still my life.

When I was in Florence, I got scared. I had made a drastic life decision; uprooted myself and moved to a country I had barely given a second thought just for some guy. I got scared. I landed and realized I didn’t speak Italian, I didn’t know how the country or city ran and I had no idea what to expect. I was disappointed by what I found and I was thrown into a self-inflicted reclusiveness to save myself from embarrassment. Venturing out meant that I couldn’t get done what I wanted. Simple transactions at the supermarket or bank became a nightmarish debacle when I cut someone in line or was given the wrong change. The system was so different. Throw in my being jobless (and Lorenzo having a normal 8am-6pm work schedule) and I simply locked myself in. I made excuses like, the shopping can wait for Lorenzo so that we can decide together what to eat. I don’t really need to go out and get a new sweater because I have some here and I can’t afford it. The list went on.

Exploring Florence, Italy

Braving the city streets to explore Florence.

Things did get better in Florence but I still found myself to be more of a homebody than I ever had been before. Instead of meeting my friends for farewell drinks, I would make up some excuse because I was broke or it was cold, when the truth was that I didn’t want to be social and especially not if it meant the effort of speaking Italian. I always believed I didn’t really belong in Italy. It was never my plan and I was in the wrong state-of-mind to learn the language properly. My self-confidence was too shot. I told myself that when we moved back to Sydney that it would be so much easier because I knew Sydney, I loved Sydney and I spoke the language in Sydney. We’d both be happier there with no expectations to meet. Just freedom.

We arrived in Sydney and I threw myself into a job because I was scared to run out of money. A short supply my entire year and a half in Italy meant I was dead-set on earning immediately. It took a while for me to stop feeling like people at work were attacking me for being new and to start feeling like they were my friends. Then, they were my friends, and they were good ones. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still missing out.

I didn’t realize that my habit of staying in, of being a recluse, would stick. I thought that when the language barriers fell, so would the personal ones. Old habits die hard. I am still finding that I have to fight myself to get out and explore. I love the city, but the hint of a grey cloud or a lonely day with no one to share the sights means that I’m happy to choose my laptop over the great outdoors.

It only took me four months but I have decided to start from the bottom and work my way up. My last day at work will be this coming Sunday, January 22. I’ll miss the wonderful people I work with but the change in schedule and attitude will be a worthwhile improvement. Plus, I don’t plan on letting them go that easily! With a more manageable and ‘normal’ schedule, I won’t be able to use tiredness as an excuse, which means I’ll have no argument against myself.

The things is that I have been living with my nose pressed against the glass.

Beach in Sydney, Australia

There is plenty more of this in store for me!

When I was in Europe a group of girls from the class below me in my sorority were traveling and studying abroad. I used to scour their pictures to see the beautiful places they were visiting and the beautiful people they were meeting. I wanted their life. And I was too jaded to realize that I was living it, like for real.

Now, that same group of girls is in Australia doing their Work & Holiday Visas. I caught myself looking through their photos the other day, and although I’m happy to keep up with their adventures (and get inspiration on places to travel), it made me realize that I have been living with my nose pressed against the glass. I wanted their lives. In reality, I am living one quite similar and quite spectacular. I don’t want to take it for granted and watch my WHV slip away. Things are going to change now, and Sydney has been kind enough to usher the change in with some real summer weather.

Do you ever feel like you are living with your nose pressed up against the glass? What kinds of things do you do to remind yourself to live in the moment?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • Andi Perullo

    Congrats on listening to your heart — only good things will come from that!

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thanks Andi! Sometimes it takes a lot to be honest with yourself and make changes but it is something that I have to do. No more wishing for things, it’s time to get them! :)

  • Heather

    Great, honest post, Annie! I’m so glad you’ll be taking the time you need and want to do the things you want to in Australia. Quitting my job there much earlier than expected was necessary (for somewhat similar reasons) but scary. Interested to hear what you’ll be up to next!

  • Anonymous

    Good for you! I hope all of your dreams come true. Glad you are following them.

  • kyle

    This is such a great post Annie, I’m impressed by your bravery to be so honest and and listen to what your heart is telling you. It’s not easy being an expat…it’s also not easy going back home…it’s not easy making any big move. Life isn’t easy. But you’re going out and grabbing it by the balls, so to say :) I’m proud of you!

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    I am not taking off to travel just yet unfortunately but I did get a pretty good opportunity. In the meantime I’ll be planning my travels and in a few months I hope to put those plans to action!

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thanks Erik! That means a lot! :)

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thank you Kyle! You have no idea how awesome it is to hear that :) Life isn’t easy but I suppose if it was it wouldn’t be as fun!! haha. 

  • Sabrina

    Great post! It’s so easy to keep yourself from having fun because you’re ecared of something… I tend to do the same sometimes and find excuses. I’m trying to do more new things now and find that while some will stay a one time thing that I actually like others a lot. Who would have thought :)

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    I know what you mean! I am glad that you have found some new things that you enjoy by forcing yourself to get out there! I have been doing a lot more lately as well but it’s more social things than exploring and I want to get out and explore because one day I may not be in Sydney anymore!

  • Ayngelina

    What a beautiful post Annie. I am actually a bit of a homebody myself and since coming back to Canada and had to force myself to be more social – always saying yes when I’m tempted to make excuses.

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thank you Ayngelina!! I have been a bit better now that I have a new job and new work hours but I still have a bit of work to do. Some good advice I got here was to never turn down an invitation (especially in your first few months in a place or back in a place) because you just never know who you might meet!

  • Nomadic Samuel

    Annie, it’s wonderful to see your dreams coming true :)

  • Patricia Feliciano

    I am so extremely happy I found your blog, I’ve been having trouble finding more personal travel blogs and yours seems so perfect! I’ve only read this entry but I can definitely tell I’ll enjoy everything else! :)

  • Patricia Feliciano

    Oh and to answer your question, I probably don’t have much experience as you but I went to France for a month and it would have been my first time living away from home… I was scared but I kept reminding myself that it’s an experience. If mistakes happen, I’ll learn from them. It’s just all a part of a story you’re going to tell in the end… and what kind of story would you want to say? “Well I was in (insert hometown here) reading a book… hanging out with my friends…” Nice, but average.. I’d rather here a story like, “I was in Australia and I got lost but found this amazing park… etc.” :)

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thank you for stopping by Patricia!  You’re comment totally made my day! I struggle between writing personal and informative posts but I assume that a blog is meant to be more personal, and it’s easier to write personal posts! 

  • Ndallagiustina

    It was interesting reading your post because sometimes I catch myself with my nose pressed against the glass and it’s your life I’m watching just as you were watching your fellow students. I hope that gives you some more perspective. Keep moving forward. It’s sounds like you’re doing great!

  • Jess

    I stumbled across your blog and I am so glad this was the first entry I saw because I am in the same position/state of mind. I too, moved to another country for love and, even with experience living abroad already underneath my belt, I became a recluse due to the difficult language and where I live(a very local building. I’m the only foreign girl). I would make the same excuses and have spent the last 4 months pretty much holed up except when my boyfriend isn’t working.  The few times I did venture out on my own, even though I felt triumphant, didn’t do much to inspire me to do it again and again; the excuses were much easier. 

    But like you, I have made the choice to throw that mindset to the wind and be the bolder and more confident person that I know I can be. This post has further solidified that choice and your observation of “living with your nose pressed up against the glass” resonates with me so much.  Thank you and best of luck! :)

  • Jade

    I have felt like this so many times and the only way I know how to get out and feel better, feel more like my true self, or even who I want my self to be, is to put myself in uncomfortable situations. I love your honestly and self reflection. It’s hard not to get stuck in a routine and watch life kind of just go by without making a dent. Keep at it- you will find your way. Also- LOVE that photo of you! (and of course, miss you!)

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Wow, your story sounds word-for-word how I was feeling in Italy. I’m glad to hear that you have decided to get out and be confident in your new home. I know how hard it is but you will feel so much more settled and you’ll feel like you belong there. Plus, the locals will appreciate you a lot more once they see the effort you are making! 

    Good luck to you too!

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thanks Jade! It is hard, now that I’ve been in Sydney for a while I’m feeling a bit better. Even though I’m not traveling as much I have realized that (although I love travel OF COURSE) I don’t need to be constantly traveling to make me happy and I’m content to settle and build a bit of a life here in Sydney for now. Miss you too!

  •!/30HomeGames 30HomeGames

    Well aren’t people pressed up against the glass of their laptops reading your adventures? I’ve found the best stories (even your own) are those told with a thrid-person perspective. I think its because the secret element to a great story is our imagination. We fill in the blanks with glamour, a fresh perspective and a sense of curiosity. You can even find this as you mentioned, when looking back at your own life. Your memory creates a grander image of the life you lived.

    As you said, its all about living in the moment. Its not always easy but putting the pieces around you helps when you’re not doing as well being self-motivated. 

  • Dalvinder Basi

    That is an extremely truthful account of yourself, most people including myself are unable to be so honest. Rate you very highly.

Previous post:

Next post: