Annie [is no longer] Adrift

I came back to give this blog some much-needed lovin’ by way of procrastination, and found this little gem tucked away into my drafts folder. I left Austria under strange and slightly dramatic circumstances and subsequently forgot to post this. It’s a little emotional and more than a little evasive – but I like things to be neat and tidy, so here is my final Austria post (over 6 months after I actually returned from Austria).

My time in Austria has come to an end, and as usually happens when things end, I’m ’bout to get all elusive and emotional up in herre. U ready?

I read a book recently (shocker!) called ‘A Whole Life’ by Robert Seethaler, which is set in Austria and is originally in German. One part of this book particularly struck me, a part that talks about the protagonist’s brief career as a self-employed hiking guide in the Austrian mountains:

Instead of talking, he preferred to listen to these people, whose breathless chatter revealed to him the secrets of other fates and opinions. People were evidently looking for something in the mountains that they believed they had lost a long time ago. He never worked out what exactly this was, but over the years he became more and more certain that the tourists were stumbling not so much after him but after some obscure, insatiable longing.

It made me think about why I originally came to Austria, and what exactly it was that I was searching for up in those mountains.

When I came here, I was running away. I don’t think I made much of a secret of this. I thought I was running away (from people, from London, from Being An Adult™) because I didn’t know what I wanted – but since then, I have realised that’s not the case.

It will not surprise many of you to know that on my return to London, I will (if all goes to plan) work for a bit (girl needs dollah ennit, teaching doesn’t pay well and you may remember me overspending a teensy bit while I was here), then pursue a Master’s degree in publishing at UCL, after which time I hope to start my career in publishing and writing with a view to (maybe, one day, if the planets align and the Gods see fit) becoming an editor/author/literary translator/literary agent/etc.

Because, as it turns out, I do want a real career after all, and to live in London a while longer, and a to have a real relationship (if the right person should come along) and even (gasp) a family one day, and until that day comes I want to slob around with, joke with, have coffee with, sing with, get drunk with, play with, cry with, eat with, live with my handful of wonderful, amazing, crazy, best-anyone-could-ever-ask-for friends who make me laugh until I cry and/or snort Jägerbomb out of my nose. I don’t have everything figured out, but after all that fannying around in Austria it would seem that the things I was running from to begin with are the exact things that have been making my heart ache with a homesickness I’ve never experienced before and that are pulling me back home like static electricity pulls hair to a balloon – and if you read between the lines a bit here, you might find an allusion to the apology I owe all the people and things I took for granted when I left.

So yes, I do know what I want. I have always known what I want. What I was running from was never not knowing. What I was running from was the utter terror of knowing exactly what I want and exactly what I need to do to get it – which is a scary thing, because when I start to do it I might fail.

I have always been a person who forced myself to do things that scare me. Moving to London, moving to three different foreign countries without knowing the language or anyone in country I was off to, paragliding, caving, volunteering for experiments where I would be injected with E.Coli with a huge needle, singing on stage, starting a blog and a YouTube channel, teaching, public speaking, reading the story of the loss of my virginity to a crowd of 300 strangers (yup, I really did that) – as soon as I’m afraid of something, I have to do it.

I’ve been told that this is probably because the Rug of Life has been pulled from under my feet one too many times, and now I’m highly suspicious of stability because I subconsciously believe it will be taken from me without warning – hence, I constantly put myself in situations I’m uncomfortable with because at least then I’m in vague control of the fear and discomfort. In other words, it might have looked and felt like I was doing scary things, but really it would have been much scarier to do the things I want to do rather than the ones I don’t want to do and to start setting up the life I already know I want to have.

Still with me?

I’m not saying I’m not still afraid. I’m fucking terrified to put my heart and soul and effort and money and work into anything that might fail – careers or degrees or relationships or my bloody evening meal. But I’m tired of running. I think it might be time to pull up my big girl pants and do the scariest thing of all which is to stop living life being afraid of everything and to move towards what I want with open arms – I’m talking about literally trying to hug Justin Trudeau here, but I like it as a metaphor too.

So, what was I looking for up in the Austrian mountains? The courage to try for the things I care about, even if it might all collapse around me quicker than Will Smith’s rap career.

And did I find that courage?

You know what, yes.

I think I did.

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