Recently I've been reflecting on what is changing in the world and what it means to move away overseas.*
What I thought I wanted for most of my twenties and teens has certainly changed, and my view of what the world is like, informed by crazy recent events.
Flashback: When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the UK, specifically London. I grew up on a diet of Jacqueline Wilson, Harry Potter, Enid Blyton and English TV Shows. I thought that what I was inevitably heading towards was a trip to the UK to live forever when I was old enough. We also had family over there so visited a few times. I thought that Wellington was so far away from everything, that I needed to leave for anything to happen.
As I grew into my twenties, my desire to move overseas when I finished studying strengthened. Everyone was getting set to go on their OE and I thought that as soon as I finished Uni, I would too. For a range of reasons, that didn't happen (you can read some of them here). Then, after working for around 18 months, I met Matt, my boyfriend. He decided to go back to study, so we committed to staying in New Zealand for another 4 years. It was a weird thing but I was like “oh well, I can still go and move there when I am like, 28-29.” The funny thing is, with everything the way it is in the world right now, I can’t help but wonder if this dream still suits me, or whether I am truly more settled as a New Zealander in New Zealand. I feel luckier than ever to be living in New Zealand and of all places Wellington.
IS THE OE DEAD?
Here’s the thing. We have a big myth about the Kiwi OE and so many people do it. But since Brexit, the US election and now the terror attack on Tuesday, I find myself questioning (with all due respect to my lovely poms across the world) whether this is something which really offers as much as I once imagined it would, when the London I imagined was that of a jolly world of Burberry, Topshop, Harrods and all the museums, was just a dreamy tourist version. Maybe I would be better off to just save up for a holiday. I know that when my mum used to say to me “Why don’t you just go on great holidays?” when I was in my early twenties, she might as well have said why don’t you cut off your arm. I truly thought that not moving to the UK was the worst thing she could suggest. In my mind, it was a selfishly motivated ploy to keep me close to her for the rest of my life! *drama queen - me?* These days, I find her logic making more sense as I seek to build a career and life here.
Now, I find myself more and more wondering if one day, when we have organised our lives a bit more, whether we will actually even want to move overseas. Don’t get me wrong - I absolutely love love love it still, in principal. I just don’t know whether I could really hack the things which slowly are coming more and more to define life over in the UK, which weren’t there in say 1997. The divided views on migration; racial tensions; the ever growing population; security threats; the long hours and commenting times. Would it really be worth it?
I suppose the point I am trying to make is that maybe the glory days of the OE are over. Perhaps there is a new crop of young people, like me, who will wonder if they can do just as well, and advance in their lives and careers by staying put. When you compare the fact that we have so fewer people in New Zealand, that our children can grow up outside, that our skill sets are not narrowly focused in one tiny pigeonhole and we can start companies relatively easily over here, it makes me wonder why my view has changed. When dreadful things hit the news, week after week, I become more and more anxious my wonderings are being confirmed and that it is better to stay right where I am.
OLDER AND WISER
Perhaps I am simply getting older and slower paced. I feel like in my twenties, I had the zeal but not the preparedness. Now I feel I lack the zeal, but could be prepared. It has taken 27 years for me to get my shit together. These thoughts also are re-enforced by the fact that I can appreciate far more the things I took for granted as a child, and those I’ve built growing up. I can’t believe my commute to work is a 10 minute walk along the waterfront; that frequently the streets are quiet; that you can walk 5 minutes and be in nature; swim in the sea (for about 4 days a year) just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the city. Yes, there are lots of things wrong with New Zealand. We have a shocking child poverty problem, we under-fund the arts and culture sector which is disgraceful, and our Prime Minister is the butt of jokes from John Oliver (wait, maybe that's a good thing). I could go on and on.
But as sombre as it sounds, the events of the last few months and days arguably cannot help but force us to put away our childish things. We cannot deny the fact that New Zealand is no longer immune from the rapidly changing world. We may not think that racial tensions are as much a problem here when it comes to islamophobia - but we have racial tensions of our own. We must be awake to the fact that we are not immune from the prejudices, population problems, blitheness to environmental issuers and hostility we can see across the news. It is here too. We need to look to what has caused this build up of unhappiness and anger and try as much as we can to prevent such ideological shifts gradually grasping at our ideas and behaviour. We need to proactively work the other way, embracing gender equality, confronting bulling and being leaders, rather than passively imagining that no one will ever care about New Zealand, on a global stage. Am I getting too ranty? Perhaps.
When I was younger I was dying to leave New Zealand. These days, I feel far more mixed. Yes, I love travel - and I would like to travel more. But I also think that while we pray for those who will go to sleep tonight, without children, we also need to appreciate that it is ok to change our minds. For those of you who are my age or younger, who are struggling with whether to go overseas or what to do next, I don’t have an answer and I haven’t yet made up my own mind (luckily Matt still has to get a few years of work under his belt so I don’t have to decide right away). It’s OK to feel confused. I do. I think the whole world does. These are not easy times. But trust that things will work out the way they are meant to, that the universe has your back, and most importantly, create and be kind to others. Appreciate the here and now, and realise it is fine to change your mind about Wellington, just as I did. You never know what the future may hold.
* this post has been amended. There were some minor references to the fact a bombing took place in Manchester this week and it had been playing on my mind, because I was affected by the tragedy. This particularly sparked the thought process in this blog and I have removed references to it due to people having mixed views about referencing the event so soon. For those of you still questioning this, I felt it was important to acknowledge rather than ignore and how this event has created a ripple effect across the world. Also, this is a piece about how privileged we are to live in New Zealand. It is not about the events in recent days specifically.
If you want more cool stories about Wellington and exclusive snapshots of life in the city, subscribe to the blog (above), follow onYouTube, Instagram, Twitter and add me on Snapchat (residents_welly).