Moving to Rome
After a whirlwind London trip last week, and becoming cognisant that I was definitely done with travelling for a while, ready to hang up my airport outfits and ground in italy; on Monday, I had come back to Rome with the intention of setting up camp – started looking into apartments, researching more into bringing my dog Jackie over, and almost signed a gym membership.
Oh, how wrong I was.
So… although I thought I was coming back to ground and wouldn’t leave italy for the next 6 months (a necessary part of getting my citizenship), and I was going to be living in Rome from that day onwards, the universe had other plans.
First, an interesting conversation with my lawyer went something along the lines of – when I begin my citizenship application, it takes time – perhaps 3-4 weeks. During this time, I am not granted citizenship of Italy, and instead, I would need to be on my existing Australian visa.
Traversing Europe all summer
Problem is, after traversing Europe all summer, I only have 20 days left on my current visa, so don’t really have the luxury of waiting up to 4 weeks until the italian town hall decides to get back from their lunchtime siesta and process my application.
Thus, on Tuesday, I learnt: “I would strongly advise you to leave italy, and the Shengen zone, until we have all your documents ready. And, we need to be smart about which town hall we apply in as well – smaller towns will process your application faster, which will be helpful, given your current visa allowance.
My new home sweet home?
Ugh.. just when I thought I was ready to settle down, get my dog over and resume a somewhat normal life, then suddenly, CURVEBALL! GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY!
In all fairness, I had anticipated this may happen, and as such, had researched a few non-schepgen zone countries, within reasonable distance (e.g. not Australia), that I could linger in. First country – Croatia. After having the time of my life on Yacht Week in 2019, I am more than happy to return. Second country – Turkey. Have never been, but the architecture, landscape and vibrance mesmerises me.
So – looking into flights and accomodation, I discover that both are quite equal – somewhat inexpensive (a factor which is a definite plus for me right now after my no-expense-spared past three months); both have great weather, and both have advantages – Croatia, smaller, beautiful beaches, great culture; Turkey – larger, beautiful beaches, city life, seemingly great culture. I know no one in either place so I really just asked myself: what excites me more?
This was an easy answer: Turkey. I haven’t been and it’s always intrigued me.
Needless to say, I am writing this while en route to Istanbul – and I am super, super excited.
Though I didn’t think I would be here, jetting off again, I appreciate that what I plan for myself, and what I think I need, is secondary to what the universe plans for me, and the universe knows I need.
For whatever reason, the universe believes Italy is not my place right now, and I shouldn’t be settling down just yet.
Maybe I haven’t learnt what I need to learn from this trip?
Maybe I need to learn to be flexible.
Maybe it’s about recognising that becoming a citizen of another country is a challenging process, and this hurdle helps me resonate with many, many others who face these same difficulties.
Maybe it’s all three.
But.. for whatever reason, I am not meant to be living in Italy, just yet, and I need to trust the universe knows what’s best for me.
And, after 2 days (and night) of moaning about leaving, feeling resentful that I couldn’t stay in the country I really wanted, and that yet again my work, stability and routines would be challenged; I had a mindset shift and quickly moved from hating the situation to loving it.
See, I asked myself: why am I so resistant to leave – why do I want to stay in Italy, in Rome, so much?
Answer: I feel like I want to settle down, progress more aggressively with my work, bring my dog over.
Though it seems like a pretty reasonable explanation, I dug further: why do I want to settle down and do my work so much right now?
Answer: because when I work more effectively, I feel like I deserve to relax more.
Ah, ok, we’re onto something.
Then, it dawned on me – each evening for the past few weeks, I have been working.
As I’ve been doing a lot of community building work, my work time has been very social, so I’ve been open to doing it in my down time.
Though this, again, sounds reasonable, I’ve unconsciously allowed this to become my norm, which has allowed no space for non-work socialising… because who wants to chat with someone stuck with their head in their laptop?
Then, it dawned on me again: this is exactly what I used to do in Sydney.
After a period of being away from my work, I’d often jump back into so deep that I’d lose all connection to the outside world – I would enter a vortex.
At the beginning, the vortex is great – you’re feeling productive, efficient, effective – you’re on fire!
But…. After a while, the vortex becomes dull, boring, lifeless and empty.
You miss having an actual conversation and you miss being laptop free with your dinner.
At least, this has been the experience for me.
And, after some time, the vortex becomes hell – you feel suffocated by your work, constrained by external goals, and seem to have no space for anything that actually matters – like people.
Then you begin spiralling – feeling burnt out, anxious, depressed.
Then you lash out – at yourself, at others.
Maybe it does.
For me, I realised this was my trajectory should I stay longer in Rome.
See, subconsciously, I’ve become more anxious to get my work done, and more frustrated at small hiccups that prevent it – e.g. needing to go into town hall to sort my citizenship papers – that I cracked.
Well – I didn’t crack actually, but my phone did – but I did get so angry that this whole process was encroaching on my work time that in a burst of anger, I threw my phone to the ground and smashed the screen.
Smart Olivia, really smart.
3 hours of walking around to find a repair shop and $500 AUD later, I had a repaired screen – and an awareness that I was at the end of my tether.
Because not only did I smash my screen, I also physically hit myself on the head, scatched my arms and screamed at myself internally for being such an idiot – none of which is reflective of happy, healthy and holistic Olivia.
Rather, this showed me how much stress I’ve been putting myself under – stress to work at my usual capacity, stress to progress, stress to organise and ‘get on track’.
But like……. Olivia…… you just moved to a new country.
It takes time.
Getting your citizenship – takes time.
Learning to communicate in italian – takes time.
Working out where your new facilities are, like the gym – takes time.
Yet.. I had approached the situation thinking I could steam roll ahead with my work just like I did in Australia.
Rather, I have to accept that perhaps, for short periods of time, you can’t progress at the speed you want.
Perhaps it’s more important to take care of life first, including your living situation, before you try and smash out work.
Perhaps I need to realise that this is a small period of time, and just because I can’t work to my maximum capacity now, doesn’t mean it will always be this way.
That’s one angle.
Another perspective is that I need to understand what ‘working hard’ allows me to do.
Before I mentioned ‘when I feel like I work hard, I allow myself to relax’.
But what about those times when you feel like you didn’t work hard? Does that mean you do not deserve to relax?
Then I thought about it, and realised my relaxing time had disappeared – it has just been alll work work.
And HERE is the problem – I’m not allowing myself to have fun or relax right now, as I feel like I am not working enough. And the soul needs to relax. The soul needs to let go. The soul needs to shine – and not because it’s being lit up by a computer screen.
See all these layers?
We think we know what we need, where we should go, what our main problems are – but really, we often do not.
I didn’t realise I wasn’t allowing myself to relax.
I didn’t know I was feeling frustrated and anxious.
I didn’t know I was at the end of my tether.
And, what I thought I did need – stability, a place to call my own – clearly that is not what I need right now, otherwise I would have it.
Instead, the universe is giving what I do need: space to relax, space to have fun, encouragement to let go of the idea that I need to earn a right to relax, let go of getting ahead, and instead, simply be here.
I have my whole life to ‘get ahead’.
In weeks, months and years to come, I will be so ahead that I don’t even know where to turn.
I know this for a fact.
But for now, my lesson is to be here.
Enjoy the moment – irrespective of how much work I have done.
Though I’ve been leaning into this for the past few months, and as a result, took my first non-work holiday of my entire life; it seems I still need to work on this – which is why I’m still being asked to travel.
There could be many other interpretations of what’s happening, but this feels the best for me – so I’ll run with it.
Wondering…. How does this resonate for you?
I’d love to hear.