The Contrarian Path

A friend recently described me as occupying a stage in life when one is prone to wandering and adventuring. Is that true? Am I going through a phase, or is this just the way I am: a constant wanderer, ever craving a new scene?

Although I have spent the last few years wandering, now, for the first time in a long time, I know where I’m going next. For the first time in a long time, I have a plan.

The next two-ish years of my life form a relatively clear picture. For the next two-ish years, I know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. This is startling for me since it has been about that same amount of time (two-ish years) that I’ve been living year to year, month to month, sometimes even week to week. It’s a shift. I’m going from ambiguity to certainty; I’m going from constant movement to relative stability: from commotion to calm.

I would be lying if I said a part of me hasn’t been craving this stability for a while now. I have a wandering spirit, and I love nothing more than exploring, than moving, than foraging my own contrarian path. Yet after leaning so far in one direction, one begins to ache for the other extreme. “The grass is always greener,” right?

I have loved these last seven months in France. They were much needed. Prior to these months I had felt lost. I left a part of my heart behind in Ukraine when I finished the Peace Corps, and like any break or separation, my soul needed healing. I missed the simplicity of Ukrainian life, the communal way of living, the generosity, and the extreme appreciation for simple joys: a sunny day, a new hand-me-down pair of jeans, a warm pair of boots, electricity that works. I wasn’t ready for the United States when I went back: the noise, the color, the busyness drowned me.

(If you think I don’t see the irony in writing about the calm and comfort of Ukraine during her current turbulence and upheaval, think again: I do. Yet I still have these memories. Furthermore, even in times of trial, Ukraine remains a culture of community and simplicity.)

And so, unready for the United States, I uprooted myself again. I said what felt like a millionth goodbye to California, and yet another hello to Europe, to France. It was the right decision for me, for although it did still take time, my soul found peace here. My heart feels whole again; my world has regained balance.

I started this short reflection (well, I meant for it to be short) with a question: is my wandering a phase, or is it whom I’ll always be? I suppose the coming years will reveal the answer. I will say this though: while it is true that I have been craving stability recently, telling the whole truth also means revealing that this stability scares me. I am easily bored: I need a constant stream of new challenges and surroundings to keep me entertained. And being comfortable, for whatever strange reason, makes me uncomfortable. I’m sure a psychological analysis of this statement would reveal some flaw or defect in my character or my past. Yet, for better or worse it’s the way I am.

I am nervous for my next steps. The new life of constancy that I will soon begin is vastly different from the life I have led up to now.

I will finish this meandering reflection in the way I started: with a question. If stability scares me, does that in itself present a new challenge, one to keep me sufficiently entertained? In a way, have I again chosen the new and contrarian path?

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. taplatt says:

    Who knows where life will lead us? Great post. What will your next two-ish years entail?

    1. Alexandra says:

      I’m going to be in DC getting a Masters in Public Health at GW!

      1. taplatt says:

        Fantastic, Sasha!

  2. Shirley Newingham says:

    Alexandra – you have the blessing inside you of a wandering soul. It is in your genes to love to travel…from your Grandparents Ulrich, your Mother, where your Father came from, from his Father, etc. You didn’t tell us where your next two-ish years will be spent and, knowing you, that was on purpose; but I imagine in the States studying somewhere. Anxious to find out. Love to you….from Aunt Shirley

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