Monday, April 26, 2010

A little Introspection

Indecision. I have to wonder if it plagues anyone other than me, though I know deep down that it does.

I am so torn between whether I am self-centered and selfish to a fault, or selfless to the point of sacrificing my own happiness for that of others (or, in some cases, just one other). How do I know which? Or is it both, each being spurred on by the other.

All of my life I have been plagued by indecisiveness. When asked to pick a stuffed animal or 2 to have on my bed, I had to have all of them so as to hurt no ones’ feelings. When asked what was my favorite day of the week, my answer was all of them for different reasons (assignment failed). When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had 5 or more answers, depending on the day. I always thought that when I grew up, I would somehow know what it was that I wanted to do, whether it turned out to be veterinarian, marine biologist, concert organizer, writer... but the older I got, the more confused I became.

Every time I decided to focus on something new, I would make it to a certain stage, and then it would cease to be fun, or, what I had imagined it to be. Just like when I went to Sunday school at the local synagogue and quit the moment we started to actually learn Hebrew. I’m not sure if I lack the drive or focus, or if I just like too many things.

As it turns out, one of the upsides of this particular personality trait is that I’ve become a bit of a renaissance man (er, girl). I know a lot about a lot, just not enough about any one thing to be any kind of expert. I can tell you all about the parts of a cell, talk knowledgeably about taxonomy, quote many great writers, tell you all about music from the Middle Ages to what is playing on the radio as I type this. I can skillfully clean an espresso machine, snake a drain, train a cat, cook a delicious coq au vin. I can do all these things and more, but where does all the fit in on a CV/resume?

I feel that I have been trapped by Brussels. When people ask me how I, an American, came to live here, I find it hard to tell them the truth. I came here for my husband. I came here for him and for his job without a second thought to what I would do. Sure, I had TEFL certification, but did I really want to teach? No. It was merely a plan for something I could do until something better came along, though I still have no idea what that was supposed to be. I’ve lived here for 1 1/2 years, and I have never had both feet in the country. I have ideas like opening up an English language bookstore, or starting an English language newspaper, but I know those will take time, and I plan on being out of here in 2 years, maximum.

So what’s left for me here? I’m teaching a lesson or 2 a week, working part time (very part time) at a cafe and doing a tiny amount of baking (for said cafe), and I’m doing some babysitting on the side. Though I’ve applied for many an office job (at the US Embassy and NATO) I don’t really have the right skill set (or interest) for those kinds of jobs to make me all that happy. I don’t want to work for a big corporation, or a consultancy, and I really have no interest in public diplomacy. It doesn’t help matters that my French is barely functional. (I am really quite good at stating what I do not want and what I am not good at, but not so good at the opposite.) So, as it turns out, Brussels is not the best place for little old me.

But there I go, blaming Brussels, when, wouldn’t it be similar (if not just the same) anywhere I go? My indecisiveness would come right back to bite me in the ass, and I would be right back to where I am no, just at a different locale. What does this mean for my future? Am I doomed to work at jobs I am unhappy in (or, perhaps simply bored by) for the rest of my life? Should I just bite the bullet and get the non-ideal job, knowing that it does not have to be permanent, just so I have something to do with my time (not to mention an income)? Am I clinging too hard to my principles to let myself even have half a chance?


  1. Hey Brody,
    I found your blog through your comment on the Marriage Confessions blog.
    I'm Belgian and will be starting my graduate studies in the States in a few months, so I'm going to look through your blog sometime to see what strucks you as weird in Belgium, so I can make sure that I don't do that in the States!
    I hope that you and your husband have a good time here, even though you are so far away from home.
    As for your post here: I also have no idea what kind of job I want to do or what I could do with my skills, but I was thinking that you'd maybe have more of a choice in Brussels if you improve your French and maybe learn some Dutch?
    I think that would give you more possibilities, and while you're learning, you have time to think about what you really want to do in your life :)
    Good luck!

  2. Hi Brody,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now, although I can't remember if I've commented before... If not - hello!

    I completely understand how you feel about living here. In the UK I had a career but over here it's very hard to work in the same field without French (and usually Dutch, too).

    If you wanted to go for coffee or something sometime, or just chat my email is lauraevegraham at gmail dot com and my blog is - I think we live fairly close to each other, I'm near Place Stephanie.

    I hope you find the right balance with working.

  3. I totally understand you! I am from Brazil and moved to Belgium to live with my hubby. I never really got used to it! Even though I speak fluent French, there was always something (I should learn also Dutch, and couldn't really work on my field of study, Law). I didn't like the "grey" weather and always thought the best thing about Belgium was getting out of it! Today we are happy in Texas, with our two adopted Belgium cats! By the way, your cats are adorable! Take the best out of your experience there!