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

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?