I find myself in strangely familiar shoes. Literally. Let me paint a picture for you. I'm sitting in a suit and tie with freshly shined black shoes on. I'm flying thirty-five thousand feet above the ground in first class with heavy eyes and a full stomach. The heavy eyes are from the meeting I have been attending which starts at 6:30am (right?!) and ends at 5pm everyday for the past week. They are even heavier when you add in the fact that at this meeting I have been having conversations about subjects I am only barely beginning to understand. Finally after mentally exhausting myself by trying to keep up with my knowledge gap at my new job I throw on a pair of jeans and head to my third meal of the day prepared for me by the American machine. Of course there wouldn't be anything on the menu that isn't carb laden and under one thousand calories. Tack on a few beers after desert and I'm back in the glutony that is the American corporate machine.
How's that for a picture?
I don't want you to think I'm complaining. When I returned from this adventure my mind was purely focused upon finding my next career opportunity. For the last three months of the journey overseas my mind drifted between hostel friendships and career networking. I started to feel the inevitable pull back to career. It was an interesting development in the evolution of so many feelings brought on by extended international travel. So many people would say to me, "if I left to do what you're doing - I'd be afraid I'd never come back!" I really struggled to relate to these sentiments.
Lets just say I AM struggling right now. The culture shock has been down right fascinating!
Don't get me wrong... My international friends may be shocked to know I have always LOVED working. If you need and confirmation just ask my father. I started scooping ice cream when I was fifteen. After I realized my sticky forearms were not going to get me the money I need to buy my dream Jeep in high school, I joined a crew of friends with a part time job at American Eagle. Yup, after my first introduction to a folding board I fell in love!? How could someone not love the ability to organize all day? Yup, I've taken my fair share of crap for my love of folding boards but anyone of my family members can attest to how I keep my own closet and why that role fit me for so long. I moved up in the world in college when I moved from AE to J.Crew. The 'crew introduced me to commission selling and basic consultative selling practices. Fancy that, customers really DO NOT want to talk to you. Slather that together with my folding board love and I was on quite the path.
How did I get onto this tangent? This is the moment where my friend Sameer closes the window and makes up his mind to tell me I need to shorten my blog posts! Thanks Sameer you're helping me stay focused here. I'm thinking Sameer will LOVE my next blog - but more on that later...
Work? Oh yeah. Well I'm back to work. I took a job back in the Medical Device field here in the US and officially started a week ago Tuesday. What does this mean for Andrew? Well I'm back to hotels, trains, planes, automobiles and expense reports.
So I did find it interesting this week as I was walking around the trade-show floor with flashes of Indonesian Beaches, South African Sharks and European castles pop in and out between pop-up displays about orthopedic instrumentation.
What did it all mean? I can't tell you today. I can't tell myself today. I don't know if I'll ever be able to describe what this journey meant to me. I can say I feel stronger after doing it. I feel more flexible. I feel like I have more patience with people from other cultures. The world seems a whole lot more flat. It feels quite small actually. I now have friends all over the world who I hold very close to my heart. The list of benefits could go on and on.
When I pause to think about what negatives would parallel those negatives... I'm stumped. I can't think of a single thing. I'm in a better place mentally, emotionally, physically, in my relationship and even with my family. Funny how all of those fears about what you'll "miss out on" while traveling come to? Did I miss anything? Sure I missed some things but the trade off was so lopsided.
The friends you meet while traveling are unique. They're special. They get to know you on a different level than your friends from back home. They're NOT your friends back home. Its important to explain you'll be friends from your "moments together." I hope to plan more of those moments with many of them. They get 100% of you for better or for worse. The friendship has not time restraints other than when you both move on to the next thing. Either it works quickly or it ends quickly. When it DOES work you know the fit will last for a long time. I never imagined I'd be inviting people to come visit me from so many other countries.
I'm content with the experience. Did I really just type that? I'm eFFing ecstatic!! I got what I was looking for and so much more. Safe to say the journey was more good than bad. It had more ups than downs.
And so life moves on. It ebbs and flows like a stream. This past year felt more like a waterfall than the river bend I had imagined it to be. I hope anyone who has read this blog has enjoyed following along. The interactions the blogging tied with Facebook made me feel connected with home when I needed and disconnected likewise. Thank you for following along on this journey. You all mean so much to me.
Stay tuned... I have another blog idea and will be hopefully asking some of you to follow along on my next journey. It may not be as extravagant as world travel but hopefully it will keep you entertained.