Confession: I am a planner. A serious, almost OCD planner. A planner who has been planning every possible aspect of my life since I can remember.
I’m such a planner that it probably wasn’t so much of a confession to you if you know me at all, more like a “well, duh.”
I’ve planned things like the age I was going to get married, the degree I wanted to study and the job I aspired to have as best I could. I picked my engagement ring, knew the day Navin would propose to me (sorry!) and even had a wedding date in mind before the said proposal. I plan to be busy on every night of the week, planning when to fit family and friends into my schedule for dinners, concerts and outings. I plan my next holiday before I’ve even got on the plane for my current holiday. I even plan my Instagram & Facebook posts and captions when I know I’m headed to an interesting place (I’m sure I’m not the only one, right?)
Whilst planning can be a great attribute at times – I almost always remember birthdays, do my best to fit a lot of people and experiences in my life and I’m rarely caught by surprise – it can be a huge curse too. I’ve been known to get unnecessarily offended or upset when people cancel plans on me, when the weather doesn’t turn out the way it should for something I’ve planned or when that planned moment in my head didn’t quite happen how it should for Instagram.
I’ve realised it’s also the reason the last few months and starting the New Year have felt incredibly uneasy for me.
I’ve started 2015 with a lot of unknowns – I’m unemployed and have no idea when my work permit will come, I’m in a new city where I don’t know many people at all and we’ve become renters for the first time, with the lease on our apartment till October.
As a planner I find joy and identity in employment, energy and purpose from a large circle of friends and full social calendar and pride and peace in feeling settled and creating a home. So how does one start a new year, a year of unknown beginnings, when it feels all the above is lacking?
Before the New Year began there were a lot of tears. So many tears I wondered when Navin was going to pull a Noah and start building an ark to sail away from me. Almost every day began with “I can’t do this”, “What on earth have we done”, “I want my old job back” or “When will I make some friends”. I’ve been determined to keep so many of these feelings and doubts to myself because our move to San Francisco is a huge privilege and one I definitely don’t want to seem to be taking for granted. But at the same time, with 2015 staring me right in the face I realised it was time to own up to my doubts and figure out a game plan for continuing to live with purpose and joy despite all of the unknown and unplanned factors beyond my control.
So, in an attempt to learn flexibility yet also hold slightly onto my nature to plan things, here are three things I’ve tried to commit to throughout the year and the lessons I hope I’ll learn too:
- Open up our home on Airbnb and learn to roll with the punches.
We listed our sofa bed on Airbnb (check it out here if you’d like!) 11 days ago and have been booked out ever since with 23 reservations already. I’m enjoying the experience because not only do I finally get some company during the day (woohoo!) but it’s given me some purpose to prepare and plan for our guests – even if that planning is just how to strategically wash all the towels and sheets we’re getting through! This aside though, our Airbnb experience means this forward-thinking planner has to be ready and flexible enough for morning-of messages from potential guests like “is your place still free tonight? We’ll be there in a couple of hours!” to waiting up till 11pm wondering if a guest is still coming and finally greeting them to realise they have very limited English and my “Je parle un peu francais” is not quite enough! Already I’ve learnt just to laugh, be flexible and just take each day (and guest!) as it comes. I’m sure there’ll be an Airbnb blog in the not so distant future to share these experiences too!
- Take a different walk around San Francisco each week and learn to appreciate my forced unemployment.
As soon as we announced that we were moving to San Francisco and I’d be quitting my job to move, the common response was “oh you are just SO lucky to not have to work!” In fact if I had a dollar for every time I’d heard that I probably wouldn’t be so desperately wanting a job right now! I tended to agree with everyone and played up my lady of leisure status – “oh yes, I can’t wait to be gallivanting around the city and living the life”. Oh, how far from truth that was. I’ve had more free time that one can comprehend but instead of appreciating it and using the time to do things I’d never had time to do before, I’ve wallowed in my lack of employment, read endless Buzzfeed lists and lusted after impossible DIY Pinterest projects. I have this big, beautiful new city to enjoy but I’ve been so consumed in my sorrows about not having plans that I haven’t planned to enjoy and appreciate this time that I do have! I bought a fantastic little deck of cards: “52 Adventures in San Francisco” which has enough suggestions to experience this beautiful city in some way once a week so with or without job, I’ll randomly pick one of these cards each week and see where it leads, whilst accepting and enjoying this season of unemployment. Maybe some of our Airbnb guests might even join me! Watch this space 😉
- Invest in the relationship right in front of me and learn from it.
There’s one relationship that I know I can learn a lot from and haven’t given it the time or space to do so: my relationship with my husband. As a planner I like to be the boss in every situation. I’m not the best at learning from other people and particularly not from Navin. Since moving to San Francisco Navin and I have had a fair few arguments with me often declaring “you just don’t get how this feels!!!” though I’ve barely given him the opportunity to show me that he gets or, or to learn from him in this huge rollercoaster of change. He might not be in the same employment situation with me, but he’s definitely given a lot up to be here as well and I think it’s time I start appreciating and learning from that. We’ve been together for over seven years (check out the comparison on the left – 2007 and 2014!) but the last three months are probably the most time we’ve spent together because for once, without our usual support network in Australia, we’re fully reliant on each other. I know this period of starting a life in a new country isn’t easy on the both of us, but I’m excited to start learning from Navin throughout this journey over 2015 and beyond.
So though I’m still starting the year full of nerves, doubts and occasional frustration at my lack of plans, I’m looking forward to learning in the three areas above, just one day at a time. As a Christian, I’m also so glad that I can rest on God’s plans for me, even when I may not know them yet, holding close these verses of Matthew 6:30-34 going forward into 2015:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself“
Are some areas left unplanned in your life going into 2015? What would you like to learn heading into the New Year? Would love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂