A Little Overdue

by - March 11, 2017

Its a well known adage, life is full of ups and downs. I think now more than ever I can attest to that. After continuously experiencing a series of low points I decided to uproot my life in Jamaica and move to France for a change of scenery. 

I had a stable job, still lived with my mother so was paying no rent and was surrounded by family and good friends. I left that behind for a less than minimum wage job, a rent that was half my salary, and no comfort of the familiar. Why?

When by design you are inherently creative but feel no spark of inspiration; When you are by nature a dreamer but instead feel only sleep deprived; When you've always sided with optimism but feel like you're running thin on hope....leaving becomes a fairly easy decision to make.

There were many moments of doubt and questioning of my sanity especially considering that my destination was a whole new world, with a completely different culture and not to mention a language I had little or NO experience with (& still don't). But, I was ready for something different.

In true Tanaka fashion I made a very clumsy entrance (read: falling down the escalator- luggage & all- and bruising my knee) into Paris on September 28th. I foolishly told my handler I could "figure out" the train system and even though it was a terrible struggle I eventually did with some help. I had taken a 4 hour coach from Kingston to Montego Bay the previous day, then a 10 hour flight to Brussels, a 2 hour train to Paris Nord and finally a 1 hour train from the city centre to a small town called Mennecy. I remember during the final train ride how exhausted I was and how I held back tears thinking about the mess I made of myself in the train station trying to navigate my way in broken French and wondering if I made the right decision to come. I genuinely thought, "this might be a sign of how your entire time here will be" but then I decided to shake the feeling and just thanked God I made it so far in one piece.

That was one of my most difficult days in France. Of course, -6 FROID days, many sleepless nights due to high anxieties, running low on funds, winter blues and the struggle of being very green to the French language have also proved trying but faith kept me going. That and...... Paris *heart eyes*.

In spite of my turbulent start, I was VERY fortunate to have been hosted by the nicest and most hospitable family. I know without doubt that had it not been for Robert and Nadia (designated French Mom & Dad), I would probably have had an entirely different story to tell about France. I am truly grateful I was bless with them (and also their adorable and brilliant boys Lilio and Noam) as they helped a lot with getting settled in France, finding my own place etc etc.

For work, I was assisting english teachers. The students for the most part were great and I can honestly say I have become genuine friends with a few. I wished my French was better so I could have connected with others who weren't so strong in English and this remains something I'm very sad about..

I didn't practice my French enough during my stay and do feel a bit awful about it because in truth there were many missed opportunities. I don't have an excuse and won't make one up as to why my French never improved. I was interested to learn but there were many days I had no drive. French is a difficult language to learn and I (naively) I hoped diffusion would be on my side but sadly, it wasn't (surprise surprise). I remember attempting to study via videos on my laptop and being woken up by drool (eww) LOL. I watched the news with my housemates, stuck post-its around the house and attempted to watch movies but I wasn't connecting with the language. It is an intimidating language, for me at least, and unfortunately I didn't put enough effort into conquering my fears. I often times feel like a hypocrite too, teaching students a new language and encouraging them not to give up when I had done just that.

Unfortunately, I also got very comfortable because in my favourite place, P A R I S, most people spoke (some) English. There is something about this place that really only "magic" could suffice as a reasonable description. This is not to say it hasn't flaws, in fact, I like to tell people that the balance of over-price everything, pissed-stenched streets and metro stations, dog crap everywhere, astounding amounts of homelessness and shady characters waiting for an opportune moment to rip you off are like constant reality checks. Still, what a world to experience. Actually, its a universe on its own hosting many different worlds. I love that every time I would portal into one of these worlds I have vastly different experiences, many beautiful, some strange, others marvelling but always charming. I got lost in many museums, took long walks in galleries and parks when the weather permitted, passed some unforgettable happy hours with new friends from all corners of the earth and discovered genuine happiness in very unlikely ways/ places/ faces.

Yet still fear and low self-esteem was something that I could hardly shake. Whether it was regrettably cutting off all my hair in hopes of having an edgier look or trying to get control of acne with another new derma system that I couldn't afford to upkeep, the constant need to blend in with naturally beautiful barefaced well-dressed women who swarmed Paris was hard to overcome. I stopped blogging because I didn't quite ooze the Parisian essence (turns out diffusion doesn't work in this aspect of life either) and failed to realise I could have etched my own Parisian masterpiece or scripted my own Parisian scene. Fear of failing to capture a beautiful story of my supposedly beautiful new life caused me to cave and stopped me from doing something I used to genuinely enjoy. I consequently felt very lonely and actually started liking it too much which kept me from meeting actual French people and then feeling sad about it and even thinking that I might grow up to be a spinster because its Friday evening and I'm already in bed at 9:30 and not taking a drink with beautiful foreign people at a noisy Parisian bar. Whaddah mad girl life.

So, here I am again in the face of another turbulent transition with less than 2 months to go before I pack up my life in Paris to make my way back home, with even more impending madness ahead considering I have no secured job or sureties waiting for me. One can only imagine the anxieties that comes with this. If you're not sure of the kind, its the one that feels like paralysis and makes you want to stay in bed and never move and hope that the world will just stop or at least forget about you long enough so you can figure things out. Then, this morning it hit me over a serving of pakoras and a Proverb:
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path.

I spent too much time trying to control things I can't and be someone/ something I am not. I didn't let go of the mess I was so desperately trying to get away from. Fortunately, it is not too late. With the scripture as my mantra, I intend to spend my final moments here much in the way it began; steadfast in faith that things will work out. I mean, I didn't blow up to become the coolest style blogger who ever did it from Jamaica or pinpoint a specific career route for the next few years or learn to speak French or even get swept off my feet by a bearded Paname hipster with nice shoes BUT still, so far Ive had one of the most invaluable life experiences I could ever dream of and I'm learning that that's more than enough. I learned to cook, became friends with some awesome people from 6 of the 7 continents, saw the Mona Lisa like 5 times (juts because), can tell a Picasso piece from a mile away, watched the Eiffel tower sparkle countless times, dog sit for a whole week and managed to keep it alive, survived a whole week on 3 euros, learned about and eaten an impressive amount of cheese and became a significantly more cultured and responsible version of myself. Not Nobel prize worthy stuff, but hey, I think they count for something.

As its not quite over yet, I hope this serves as a good enough "update" for those of you who were wondering. I still have a few more weeks to make the most of so I'll keep you posted on how it goes... (I promise this time).

until next time......

Do Good, Dress Well

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  1. You are a star! You did something that many want to do but can't for one reason or another, you are living life in your terms. Fret not...just keep walking in faith and be the best that you can be. Opportunity awaits ��. Love you. #bestie

  2. Your the Best never forget that God has a purpose and a plan for Us all your a go getter dispite all the challenges you face in Life, but that's what makes us Stronger and a better person. I have my own Walk of Fame with that big Bright star for you all I am always your Fan, always proud of your accomplishments, just be the You that you are because it's hard work to be someone else, Inner Beauty is so Beautiful and that's what makes you so different you light up everyone's world that you come across. God has a Special plan for you my dear the race is not for the SWIFT but for the man that can endure to the End. I love you for the chances that you take in life by leaving your Family behind to go so far to accomplish your dreams that's a big jump, your like your Uncle Kos, sky is the limit for you both. Your Home will always be here go and Conquer the world My Princess don't worry about anyone or anything, God will always be your Guide. Be Safe! Love you like Life (Mom) #beautiful #gogetter #hardworker #Godfearing #missingyou