As of today, I’ve been in the Netherlands for 9 months. This past week I’ve found myself thinking about all the things I’ve experienced this year. I’ve been to several new countries, I’ve met up with friends who I thought I might never see again, I’ve learnt a new language and so many other things that I don’t even know where to start.
I’d say one of the most significant things, would have to be the au pairing (which is why I am here). Prior to coming here, I was aware of the fact that my perception of au pairing was probably rose-coloured (as with most things), and that the reality would be different from what I was imagining. But, it was different in ways that I did not expect. The biggest example would probably be the idea that au pairing mainly consists of doing laundry, packing school lunches and going on cute outings with the kids who are in a constant state of happiness.
The reality, however, was slightly different. It is a lot of laundry, packing lunches and going on outings (but not always cute outings because sometimes kids don’t like to cycle and then it’s about 30 minutes of motivating them to cycle faster so that you can be on time for the movie). It also involves motivating the kids after they lost a hockey match, or telling them that it is not about being the best, but rather giving your best. It consists out of encouraging good behaviour and repeating things like “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. There has also been a lot of “walk it off” when they get hurt, as well as “there’s no blood, you’ll be fine”.
All these moments, however, fade in comparison to moments where you can see that the kids trust you. About a week ago, I spent the Saturday morning in my room, finalising things for a trip, when the boy just came to hang out. He often prefers to playing by himself with his cars and imagination, so the fact that he came looking for me, and spent about an hour just talking and joking around, was quite significant.
And now, my return to South Africa is surprisingly close, and I have to start prioritising the things that I really want to do before I have to go back. It’s quite a strange feeling. I’ve built a life here, and I’ve formed patterns and relationships. The other day on Google Maps Streetview, I was looking at the student where I stayed for the last two years. It formed such a large part of my university experience, and even though the house still exists, the place and the feeling associated with it is lost forever.
This whole year has brought such a learning curve. It was born out of necessity with me not knowing what to study. I was extremely stressed about my choice, and this year of distancing myself from the situation, and allowing myself to consider other options, has allowed for personal growth and even greater opportunities. It’s important to have goals which you are striving to achieve, but it’s also important to know that you don’t have to have everything figured out.
If you have every part of your life planned out, and you are not willing to let go of that plan, then you might miss out on amazing experiences. Sometimes you just need to let go and take a chance.