The Inner Monologue of a Soon-To-Be Expat

As I listlessly gaze upon the fancy restaurant menu trying to decide from the array of trendy delights like creamed kale or a beef carpaccio starter, I sit up to see my parents across the table, their faces slowly shaping into looks of worry-filled pride. Suddenly, my idea of a difficult decision went from chicken or steak to something slightly deeper.

I see the nervous excitement in their eyes. It’s the knowledge that their daughter is “brave” enough to make the decision to move out of the country. Although we were supposed to be celebrating our last few nights together with a nice meal, my decision was staring me in the face and my appetite receded.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

For months I have been elated about my decision to move to Israel. Great friends, the beach and an amazing culture…yada, yada, yada. So much excitement and energy had gone into such a large, “life-changing decision” (I have really begun to hate this terminology), but with one dinner, I felt the grip of reality clench my gut…hard.

As one could imagine with a decision like this, doubts flooded my mind. Would I be happy? Would I find a job and make a “suitable” life in a foreign country? The biggest doubt of all sounded like a deprecating blonde cheerleader from my past saying, “How does someone like that decide something like this?” It was as if the past few months, which had flown by with ease, finally made a dashing halt at the idea that this was still a “decision” I had to make: would I get on the plane or not?

Decisions come in all shapes and sizes. From obvious “biggies” like which university to go to and who to date to the seemingly inconsequential daily happenings; should it be the muffin or the bagel, brown or black sofa?

I say seemingly because I have a hard time believing that some decisions mean more than others. Aziz Ansari gets it. He created a whole skit talking about how an insignificant trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond could lead to a love story with a happy ending. 

He made his case and said, “The most casual of decisions have the most tremendous of consequences.” 

Maybe this is just a subconscious technique for me to avoid a major panic attack, but I truly believe that every decision we make changes our lives. It’s just a matter if you choose to view them as “life-changing” or not. Yes, choosing to live in another country changes almost everything about my daily life, but I choose to think that the serendipity of waiting in line at a coffee shop could have as equally consequential results. 

Reasoning with Doubt

Most of the time, I remind myself of the tangible reasons why I am going back to Israel. All of the countless scenarios and stories I’ve detailed in my blog. All of the people I’ve met and the new information I could have only learned from being on Israeli ground. 

But my other line of reasoning is less clear-cut and more unnerving. I find that Cheryl Strayed and her description of journeying across the Pacific Crest Trail sums it up, as the two journeys are clearly comparable. ::cough, cough::

She said, “…I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.”

If I am being honest with myself, I intended to live in another country all along. I didn’t want to feel content in a place just because I was born there. The world is too open now for me to feel fulfilled in that. And as I am faced with the decision to get on that plane and fly three (overweight) bags of my life to Israel, I can’t help but be urged by my second line of the reasoning, the reasoning that says, “This was your intent before you even knew it.” 

Going back or going forward would both be OK, because life is what you make it. I could learn to be happy anywhere. But because of that logic, why not go forward with the intent that has stayed with me for so long? So I will, and I will carry with me the knowledge that this is just another decision in a bottomless series of decisions that will continue to make me who I am.

Choose to Be You

I am powered by the simple words of Paul Arden, a famous ad guy who writes quite brilliantly about the nonsensical, pompously contrived advertising world I used to know and love. 

“Whatever decision you make is the only one you would make. Otherwise you would make a different one. Everything we do we choose. So what is there to regret? You are the person you chose to be.”

I am the person that I chose to be and that is all I can be. Whatever happens, I will not regret.