“You’re not 25 anymore, y’know,” my sister says. She’s being gracious. After another year abroad, I re-enter my bedroom where the posters, postcards and photos plastered against the back wall are peeling off, the Blu-Tack tired of supporting them. This is interior decoration befitting a 16-year-old, and I am now (sigh) an almost-no-longer-twentysomething.

bedroom wall

But what does the bedroom of an almost-no-longer-twentysomething look like? Probably a few minimalist picture frames capturing my wedding day, the smiles of my two (ideally mixed race) kids and our most recent European holiday. One abstract painting and a watercolour landscape.

Except that I am single and unemployed with zero offspring. And I haven’t picked up a taste for abstract art. I don’t belong to this bedroom.

No, I don’t even belong to this city. It made me but I have outgrown it – or rather I’ve deviated from the life plan it envisages for its children. According to Mother Canberra, I should be a middle manager in the public service, on track to paying off the mortgage on my three-bedroom house, married and probably also a mum myself. I should have an iPhone 6 and a barista who knows my name and order.

That’s probably the picture I would have painted for myself 20 years ago. I’m not sure at what point exactly in these last two decades my vision shifted. I no longer want that. I mean I do: I’d like a job with regular hours that pays more than decently; my own home; a life partner; babies; the latest smartphone; consistently excellent coffee with customer service to match. They’re all fabulous things to have.

What I mean is that “that” is simply not enough. I want more than that. And if need be I am willing to give up every single one of those things for that illusive and ineffable “more”.

What I mean is that I would much rather be and do than have.

Five days in, I’m grateful to be back in my hometown. But I wonder if in the long run I won’t feel more at home in the company of English teachers in Madrid, expats in Dili, artists in La Paz. People who love their jobs but live for the weekend. People who are “in between” yet totally in the moment. People I never wanted to be.

I am almost no longer twentysomething and I don’t know how to decorate my own bedroom.

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  1. Hey Hsu-Ann! I think you’re really courageous in your choice. I am going through a ‘mid-life crisis’ where I am considering going back to get my teaching qualification. I think I’d really enjoy teaching primary school, but I can’t be sure, having never done it before, and I think I’d be able to make a positive impact on the kids’ lives. But I can’t help but think about the cost and the risks. I’d have to quit my current decent-paying job with really good superannuation and parental leave benefits, invest in a degree; what if I can’t get a job as a primary school teacher? Secondary teaching would be the smart choice since there’s a shortage of science and maths teachers (which is what I’d be), but I’m drawn towards primary teaching. What if I don’t like being a teacher? It’s probably an easy decision for many, but I tend to stress about every decision made. But similar to you, I feel that I want more than to fix up business processes and make sure projects are delivered on time. I don’t even know if this makes sense because I have been throwing up for the past two days and am probably out of my mind a little, but I find you a great inspiration 🙂

    1. Oooh Ling, that’s so exciting yet daunting at the same time. Definitely keeping you in my prayers and hope your health is okay! We can teach togetherrrrr! Though I’m probably going to go into secondary teaching of maths.. who knows? After a year abroad, anything could happen.

      Thanks for the read, Ann! Definitely good food for thought on the verge of going away!

    2. Aww thanks so much for sharing, Ling! I had no idea you were into teaching but that is fantastic and such a beautiful way to feed into other people’s lives (not just the kids but beyond them to their parents and society ?), so if you feel called to that you should definitely look into it. It would be a huge decision to go back to school so yeah obviously it won’t be an easy decision … But you feeling drawn to a potential change is a great opportunity to ask God and ask yourself what He really wants and see how that aligns (or doesn’t align) with what you really want. You know what I would do hehe, but I can’t claim my way is the only way ? … Also, happy belated birthday!! And hope you’re feeling better!! So sorry to hear you’ve been unwell on your birthday, that sucks 🙁

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