My Seven Month Sabbatical

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I recently put in my two months notice.

Quitting is an odd feeling. Though I will soon depart and return to the motherland, I’m still here for a solid two months. This means continuing work and friendships knowing they will ultimately end. It seems particularly morbid, but mostly it’s completely unmotivating.

On the other hand, it’s very freeing. When times get hard or I begin missing home, I have the hope of two months of separation before I’m on Texas soil again.

When I decided to move to New Orleans, responses were mixed. My favorite is still Amanda’s: “Oh, you’ll meet your husband there. I know it. I can just see you with a New Orleans guy.”

Now we laugh because it’s meeting a guy in Texas that’s bringing me back.

I came here with no expectations. I knew that regardless of what happened, I would leave New Orleans a different person than when I arrived.

In Texas, I was busy. I made lists and worked long hours and spend too much time being wound up. My identity tangled itself up in things. I didn’t think I would, but when I left, I lost a huge part of who I thought I was. Without Concordia, without friends, without family, without things to do, I found myself wandering around a new city lost.

I didn’t realize what I valued until I couldn’t hold onto it anymore. Once I learned to let it all go–a long, arduous process involving tears, chocolate, late nights, many phone calls, and letting go of piles of self-pity–I found more of myself. I found a person independent of work, expectations, and trying to be someone who everyone would like. It hasn’t been a time I’d like to re-live any time soon, but it’s exactly what a fresh college graduate needs before accepting adulthood.

I’ve been an “adult” for some time now, but moving here forced me to grow up. I’ve kept a budget and paid bills on my own. I’ve taken care of actual cat lives and so far they have not died at my hands. But mostly I’ve learned what type of person I want to be. Possibly more than anything, boredom taught me this.

I am thinking through all of the things I want to do while I still have my alone time here. I will probably never, never again have this much free time to watch six consecutive episodes of Gossip Girl only getting off the couch to eat a cookie. I might as well take advantage of it, right?

I’m working on my fourth painting. I hated art when I was younger because I’m truly awful. There isn’t a creative, artistic bone in my hands. But I always wanted to paint. It looked fun and therapeutic. I’m in the middle of trying to paint mountains and it’s extremely difficult. Drawing triangles like I did when I was seven doesn’t cut it nowadays. But if I didn’t try now, I knew I never would. Plus, acrylic paint from Wal-Mart is only 50 cents.

I’m also becoming fairly talented at cooking Chinese cuisine and making smoothies (green tea, raspberries, mango, and spinach. thank me later), skills that will last a lifetime.

I’ve attempted running multiple times, though I hate it. I’ve joined a small group of strangers. I played kickball with said strangers (please note working intramurals for the past few years at Concordia always meant reffing, never playing). I’ve taken time to go on long walks and listen to podcasts and audio books.

My goal is to drive away from New Orleans with a list of things I’ve accomplished or tried while living here that I wouldn’t have done had I stayed in Texas. It doesn’t have to take moving 500 miles away to do all these things, but the comfort of life in Austin kept me from trying any of them. I’m afraid I’ve proven all of those cheesy quotes about magic happening outside of your comfort zone right.

All the things I spent my time on before weren’t bad. Work, school, friends, and Mexican food all are wonderful things.

But that just isn’t where the magic will happen.

That’s something you have to learn for yourself.