No matter how prepared I thought I was for the move, the reality is that no amount of overthinking and mentally psyching myself out for this experience (see also: worrying about dengue fever) could have prepared me for the reality.
You remember that Expectations vs. Reality scene from 500 Days of Summer? (It’s okay. I forgive you if you don’t, it’s on youtube). That’s been roughly my experience here – but unlike the movie, my expectations aren’t being crushed by a dim and terrible reality. More than anything, I find myself surprised at what it’s taking, and how quickly I’m learning. Both on and off the job, even!
Just a rough indication…
Expectation: Roommates being weirded out at my self-admitted eccentricity and/or roommates that I have nothing in common with.
→Reality: The best group of flatmates and neighbors I could have ever possibly wanted.
Expectation: Being thrown into a soul-crushingly boring and/or difficult job with no training
→Reality: Being stationed at an amazing position, after extensive training.
Expectations: Having a blast at Magic Kingdom on warm, balmy nights and catching a bus home.
→Reality: Having a blast at Magic Kingdom on a cold, windy night, waiting two hours for a bus, arriving home at 2.30 in the morning
Expectation: Cooking up delicious, healthy dinners for me and my roommates every night.
→Reality: Not being able to afford a crock pot yet, microwaving leftovers for every other meal, and putting the bottle of wine and lunchmeat back on the shelves to stretch that last $20.
Of course, there were also things I couldn’t have even considered – neighbors stomping across the ceiling and people outside hollering drunkenly at 2 in the morning when I have to be up at five, watching maintenance pull a battery (??) and rocks (?!?!) out of our busted garbage disposal, the nightmare that is showering with Orlando’s hard water, and the sense of victory one feels when getting three meals out of $2.50 worth of food.
Keep in mind, I’m not complaining! These are all experiences that I’m grateful to have. The kicker is that although the expectation scenarios preoccupied me for months, and the realities are not what I was expecting at first, I’m amazed at how far a little positive thinking and a lot of adaptability are taking me. Worrying and fretting have not taught me anything (although fear has!), and theorizing didn’t get me anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a
wannabe academic and will gleefully toss around a theoretical situation all day long. Book learning and the contemplation and discussion of theories and hypotheticals ranks up there in my top ten favourite things, along with newborn kittens, alpaca yarn, and birthday cake tea. But the longer I am here , the more it is becoming apparent – life’s lessons are best learned when you’re on your feet (and preferably, with a smile on your face).