Where do you see yourself in five years? Celebrating the fifth year anniversary of you asking me this question. –Mitch Hedberg
But really… I’ve never liked being asked this, mostly because I’ve never been able to answer it personally or professionally but I must now ask it of myself. It’s time to decide my future.
In 2010 the decision to move to Amsterdam was quick and easy as the original contract was only a year. As horrible as it might be, I could survive just about anything for a year and the experience would look good on my resume. Moving to Amsterdam and taking a job almost completely blind turned out better than I could have imagined so the decision to continue through 2012 was even easier.
The calendar’s pages have turned enough times that I must now start thinking about what I want to do next year. I enjoy my job and it seems they would be happy to keep me on. Great! I am still thoroughly enjoying living in Amsterdam and traveling Europe. Great! If it were just those two things to consider, the choice would be clear. But something inside tells me it’s time to start thinking more than one year out, making my decision process much deeper and more complex.
Career-wise I have a better idea of what I enjoy and what I’m good at than ever before. I can actually see options of what I could be doing in 1- 3- or 5-years and there are interesting things on the horizon in my current role. But it’s not just about what I want to do, it’s also where I want to do it. I came here for a year which turned into two. Now it reaches the point where living in Amsterdam has to shift from something fun I do for a while to a life choice. The questions rattling around in my brain become; Do I see myself living abroad long-term? Could I settle down in Amsterdam? Am I okay being this far from family, seeing them once or twice a year? Where is home? Kind of a big decision I’d say.
I’ve already spent countless hours thinking about this and will no doubt spend countless more. In September I will decide allowing sufficient time to make arrangements either A) to find a longer-term home in Amsterdam that I can make my own and reapply for a residence permit, or B) to start making plans to return to the US looking for work and a place to live.
There are a lot of things changing around here lately. Some of those changes will help make the decision easier while others may make it more difficult. For various reasons I won’t document my whole thought process here, but I would like to keep track of and share with you at least some of this part of the experience. I’d also be interested to hear from others who have gone through something similar – What criteria did you consider? What influenced your decision? What would you have done differently? Will a country other than the one in which you were born and raised ever really feel like home?