On a Personal Note

The Art of Acceptance: Reflections on Two Years in Italy

This past Monday marked two years of my moving [permanently] to Italy. If you’re new here, you can head to this post to see what I mean!

It’s been the wildest of rides–relief followed by uncertainty; clarity followed by confusion; satisfaction followed by disappointment. Then, the A-word. Ten letters that would change my life… and no, it’s not alcoholism (:

Acceptance.

When I first moved here in February 2018, I had ZERO plans. I figured I could land a role as either an English teacher or tutor down the road, but I was honestly in no rush. After a few months, though, I realized I wasn’t cut for a plan-less life. The funemployment was fun at first, but then reality sunk in–I was bored and in dire need of something to fill my days (and bank account) with. Of course, living in Italy has forced me many times to abandon my plans and embrace spontaneity… yet… the planner in me will never perish.

The plan-less life isn’t for me, and I’ve accepted it.

Two months after my move, I started sending out my CV to a bunch of children’s language schools all over Milano. After several callbacks, I showed up to the interviews with a smile painted on my face and freshly-printed CV in hand. I made the case for why I’d make the perfect English teacher, and ended up receiving a couple of offers. However, I soon realized that I was selling myself short–I was only applying for these roles because they were comfortable. Easy. Safe. I was deep in my comfort zone, and needed to take a gigantic step to get the fuck out of it.

I can’t grow by playing it safe, and I’ve accepted it.

While I was on the hunt for a more steady gig, I needed ways to keep myself busy in the meantime. In May, we had just moved into our apartment in the city, and fixing it up kept me occupied for a long time. Otherwise, my days mostly consisted of keeping up with my blog, enjoying bike rides around the neighborhood and offering tutoring sessions to adults in English. A couple of times per week from May until September, I’d meet up with some ‘students’ and help them with the language. Some preferred textbook; others preferred just chatting. As the months passed, though, the number of sessions slowly started to dwindle. Three girls just stopped responding completely to my texts, and two guys decided to look elsewhere for a tutor after they realized I was not a certified English teacher (I had always been upfront about this anyway). I just didn’t understand why the girls couldn’t text me that they didn’t want to continue; my feelings wouldn’t have been hurt. In fact, I was more pissed at the fact that they “ghosted” (God, I’m too old to be saying that) me than the fact that they didn’t want to continue with the sessions. I was reminded of a lesson I had learned a couple of years ago when I first moved to Milano and encountered classmates with whom I just couldn’t connect.

I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’ve accepted it.

In June, I started applying to 9-5’s like a madwoman. During the first week of August, I finally got a callback from a travel/tech. scale-up regarding a role where a mother-tongue English speaker was needed. Around the end of the recruitment process for this position (it lasted until the end of September), I received an offer at an English school that I had applied to a few months prior. I had a choice to make–either stall with the school a bit to buy time as I wait for news on the other cooler job, or accept the offer and stay in my comfort zone. Well, after a bit of a push on my end, I finally received the email I was hoping for–I was asked to join the content team full-time for the travel/tech. company (my current job!). It was terrifying, but I called the school and politely declined their offer.

Sometimes the easy choice isn’t the right choice, and I’ve accepted it.

Throughout these past 16 months, I’ve learned a lot. About the ever-changing, ever-challenging world of technology. About the importance of SEO and keywords. About working in Italy and the (sometimes strange) norms that come with it. Several opportunities have popped up throughout my time here, but none of them worked out for me. At first, my disappointment was blatant. I replayed certain conversations in my head. I questioned my capabilities. I heeded the behaviors of my peers. Then, my lightbulb moment came. Clarity. My determination and refusal to be discouraged says more about my character and work ethic than all the no’s I received. I truly do believe that when something (or some things) doesn’t work out, it’s because something even better is on its way. I betted on myself, and I’ll continue to bet on myself.

Rejection is a part of life, and I’ve accepted it.

It’s funny because acceptance can be perceived to be an ugly word. Something that happens when you throw in the towel. Wave the white flag. Give up.

But, nah.

For me, it’s acknowledgement of a truth, positive or negative, that you cannot change. It’s understanding and working through that truth. It’s using that truth to help you move on.

Acceptance is not saying, “So and so thinks I am _______, and I accept it”.

It is saying, “So and so is free to think I am_________, and I accept it”.

It is saying, “I can prove to so and so that I’m not _________, yet–if it doesn’t work–I accept it”.

So, on this first day of March and on the eve of my blog’s two-year anniversary, I continue to live life here in Italy with conviction and valor… and hope for my readers to do the same. If life isn’t going the way you planned, you can always give the 10-letter A-word a shot. The one that ends with an “e”, for clarification :p

 

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