I’ve done long distance, felt distant, taken the path of most resistance. Said good riddance. I am now, as you can imagine, pretty fucking resilient.
Still, Germany was a long way to go for someone who hasn't come very far. On a bad day I’d believe that. And trust me, there are bad days. If I had a euro for every time I cried on the U-Bahn, well I still wouldn't be rich, but I'd certainly afford the taxi to avoid more unconcerned strangers staring at me on public transport. When you’re considered to be a “happy person”, you can forget to grant yourself permission to be sad, to feel vulnerable, anxious or just discontent. I often have these feelings relating to my choice to live abroad, design career and generally questioning what the hell I am doing with my life.
This identity complex comes from a deep and constant need to try and compartmentalise who I am. Reality of course, is a lot messier. I saw Berlin as a great career move, a chance to experience another culture and an exciting (admittedly terrifying) new challenge. I operated under the assumption it would be temporary, but now I'm not so sure. I often feel torn between multiple, very distant cities that define pieces of my selfhood. Despite this, I'm still slightly estranged in all.
It’s an annoyingly obvious and yet always surprising realisation that happiness and contentment lie on a spectrum. You can’t be up one end all of the time. It can shift within the year, the day, or as I mentioned, during the U-Bahn ride home. Simply writing this piece has left me conflicted because distance has both negative and positive connotations. Confusing right? I am a walking, talking, living, breathing, crying, contradiction.
On one hand, most things look better from a distance. This painting. That poster. My makeup after a full day touching my keyboard, then face. But is that just because we are too afraid to see up close? We don't really want to know how long something takes, how tough it can be, or what sacrifice is required. We’d rather ignore the cracks, flaws and imperfections to pretend someone else’s grass is greener.
Yet on the other side, being too close to something creates tunnel vision and taking a step back from my work gives me a fresh perspective. It’s impossible to see the facade when I’m standing inside the building, so whether distance is good or bad always depends on the vantage point that I'm looking upon myself. For the moments I forget about where I should be and remember where I am, the pressure of my own expectation lifts enough to pursue what makes me truly happy.
Things are always clearer in hindsight when I pause long enough to reflect on where I’ve come from, and Australia is a short way to go for someone who has come so very far. Most days, I’d rather believe that.