As 2015 closed out, I found myself reflecting on one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life: that of choosing to experience life as an expat in Ireland. After all, it is nearly a year since my final decision and with it a huge learning experience. (Let’s just say I may possibly have a second career in international tax law.)
A little over year ago I had just returned from the trip that has since altered my life for the better. The trip was only to share information between my then US-based team and the European team of the same function. I knew the latter was in rebuilding mode and I knew that one of the roles was in effect the same that I held in the US. Yet, little more had occurred to me until near the end of two days of meetings when I had a “light bulb moment”: for about five minutes while I listened to the presentation, my mind turned over the thought that – well, duh… that one role? I could do that. And, I could move to Europe to do it.
As the day wrapped-up and everyone began packing their things to run off to their plane/train/automobile, I turned to the Director (who happens to be an American expat) and tossed the idea at him, fully expecting nothing more than a polite consideration followed by an equally polite “great idea, but no thanks.” Instead, his eyes got a bit wider, and a half-grin spread across his face as he tilted his head and said something like, “You know, that could be great, actually! Let’s chat soon.”
I was flattered.
I was excited.
Oh my god, what did I just do?
The choice was easy (yes, I would like to do this)… the decision more difficult (am I ready to do this?). There were tax implications to research, a condo to sell, and an elderly dog to consider. And, while I’m open to risk, I prefer to understand potentialities so I can be ready to deal with them should any occur. I also wanted to consider my parents, being their most proximate assistance should they need it. Then there was the fact that only I support myself — there’s no one else upon whom I can make a soft landing should I find fall into financial straits. Spontaneous? Not exactly. Adventurous? At heart, yes.
But I needed to accept — and quickly — that all of my concerns could be resolved to some extent or more. This was likely one of the safest risks I could take and one with the greatest rewards. And so, on my 40th birthday, three months after throwing the five-minute idea into the ether, and while visiting Cork to see what it was like, I formally accepted the job. Minutes later, I hopped into a cab and headed back to my hotel.
I won’t lie: after all the knuckle-wringing, the decision was rather anti-climactic. It was dark and rainy outside, everyone had gone home, it was my birthday — a milestone one at that — and no one with whom to celebrate. (Though, my taxi driver was very pleased for me!)
But, I was happy. I had just made the biggest decision in my life and it felt both exciting and scary. So often I take the “safer” (re: comfortable) path but this time I allowed myself the freedom to embark upon the adventure of my lifetime.
Now, as I approach both my 41st birthday and the anniversary of my decision to move to Ireland, I look back on the gift I’ve been given. I had never fully considered the notion of living and working overseas. At most, I nearly took up a Peace Corps position in sub-Saharan Africa or pined over traveling the world job-free for a year or two. Either would have been an adventure, but for personal reasons (both known and unknown to me) they didn’t happen. When the job here in Ireland came up, it wasn’t something I put much thought into until after it became real. For me, it was a leap of faith — albeit a rather researched one, as some will surely remind me.
I’m here. I’m safe. I’m comfortable. I’m happy. It’s a gorgeous country full of friendly people. And, I plan on seeing and doing more in 2016 because you never know when it may all come to an end.
Here’s to it and for it and do it again.
For those that get to it
And refuse to do it,
May never get to it
To do it again.