During my first month at work here in France only a few years ago, my manager asked me one of the age-old questions that have been asked to many of us in this lifetime: how do you see yourself in the next 5 years? It was a challenging question, and one would think, you have to make an impression if you get asked by this question. But I have always been honest, and I made this clear with my manager and so, I said that I did not have any plans yet, especially that I just relocated to France from my job post in Bangkok, Thailand. The move to a new continent was something that this Asian still hasn’t wrapped around her head yet, I’m telling you. I never thought, nor expected, that I would be moving in this side of the world, away from the people I know and love.
Many of us have already planned on what to do in the next 5 years. While others, like me, would like to live in the present – but preparing for the future at the same time. I’d say that I’m still not going to just let things happen on its own course, I’m still the overthinking Cancer who would like to prepare something in the future, like an ant preparing for the next rainy season. It’s just that at this moment, there was not any goal in sight yet. I have things in mind in my job, but in life in general?
What about in the last 5 years? I stumbled upon this question in one of the topics for the Blog post challenge, and I’ve thought of the past. It’s always good to look back and appreciate what has happened so, we can move forward into the future with the lessons learned back then.
It’s 2020, and we’re in the middle of the pandemic. I don’t see the light at the end of this tunnel yet, and we have so many time right now to ponder about life in general. Did I change in the last 5 years and how?
I have been living in Bangkok, Thailand for my job since 2014 and a year after, it was only then that I started settling in to the new environment and culture. It was different but somehow the same from where I grew up in – the Philippines. For the first time in my life, I am living alone. I rented my own apartment and paid my own bills. I learned to be more independent than I was when I was still in the Philippines. I learned to be stronger in the face of challenges and own up my actions.
In Thailand, I also learned to appreciate the herbs and spices that Thai food has to offer, especially the Thai basil that has a very distinctive taste for me. Spicy food was not a problem since my Dad is a Bicolano and I got used to having spicy food on the table every now and then, and most especially during Sunday lunches.
In the past 5 years, I also learned to appreciate and let go of some friendships. I guess the past years have also been emotional for me. Living abroad meant not only leaving the family behind, but also the friends you grew up with. I have gone through some lonely moments during my adjustment period of living alone abroad, and I’m the kind of person who would reach out for someone to ask for support. I wear my heart upon my sleeve and I let my emotions ran freely, but sometimes, I don’t get appreciated for what I am and it hurt. I learned to fend for myself, re-discover where my happiness lies in and how to appreciate the people whom I could rely on when I needed them the most.
In 2018, I had the opportunity to move continents. With the support and care from my family, friends and colleagues, I hopped into a plane and moved to France. To say that things were different here was an understatement. Europe is very different from Asia, we all know that. My lifestyle also changed. From the busy, lively streets of Bangkok, I got settled in the quiet, relaxed town of Antibes in the south of France.
I started living a life that is away from the social media. I put away my phone most of the time. With less traffic and the close proximity to nature, I was walking more. I had a new appreciation with the products of the local community such as the freshly-baked bread in the nearby boulangerie or the organic vegetables at the market by the local farmers or the local soaps and oils by the local sellers from the nearby towns. I learned to brew my own coffee. I learned to appreciate the time I have with other people and not to rush things. I learned to appreciate the simplest of things.
Looking back in the past years, I realized that it was a journey worth taking.
How have I changed in the last 5 years? The experiences and the lessons changed me. And I like what I see. I learned to appreciate life more.