Hi babes! I am so happy and honored to be able to guest post here after years of Sam suggesting that I do. My name is Laura, and my story is kind of a weird one. So before I get into that, I’ll start with how I got lucky enough to call Sam my sister.
Sam came into my life when I was 15 years old when I joined our club soccer team, which was one of the best teams in the country. So not to brag, but Sam and I used ball hard in soccer, and through this team we were granted incredible opportunities to compete (and win) at the highest level and to earn scholarships to our dream colleges. Since then, Sam has been my best friend.
I hate the exclusivity of terming someone your “best friend,” like every person should only have one of them; rather, I consider the term “best friend” a level of connection that I am lucky to share with a handful of incredible people. With that said, my relationship with Sam is undoubtedly one that I cherish most because the nature of it is so unique. First, Sam and I have stood by each other through some pretty intense phases: her bible-bumping phase, my emo phase, both of our rebellious teenage phases that enabled each other. We’ve also been by each others’ sides through extreme highs and lows, everything from movie-caliber crazy nights, national soccer championships, breakups, immediate family deaths, and literally everything in between.
Sam’s friendship is especially important to me because she isn’t like my other best friends. To be blunt, Sam and I are extremely different and have very different beliefs, but that has never impacted us because at the core, our souls are very similar. I personally don’t understand my horoscope or crystal healing (though not opposed to learning), I don’t know what retrograde means, and I will 100% be vaccinating my children. Sam doesn’t share my obsession for Soviet history or Postmodernist literature and definitely did not have the same life-changing educational experience that I did from attending university. We might think discordantly, but our hearts and intentions are always in the same place, and from our relationship I have loved learning from our disparities. We unconditionally support each other (I swear Sam is my personal hype-man), motivate each other when the other gets lazy, and most importantly, respect each other’s choices regardless of the situation. In a world where everything has become so terrifyingly polarizing, the love Sam and I share is something so sacred to me that it’s difficult to accurately put into words.
All of this is not to say that Sam and I have nothing in common; we’re simultaneously the same person. We both can’t get through the day without breaking or spilling something, we can always laugh at ourselves with self-deprecating humor, we don’t know how to get embarrassed, and we are usually known for being the most social in a crowded room. I think our biggest similarity is that we don’t know how to do anything halfway: when we love something or someone, it will absolutely consume us. We both don’t really know how to have “friends”, we either have good acquaintances or friends that we love so hard we’d run through fire for them. When we like a song, we can listen to it on repeat for weeks. When we become passionate about an idea, we’ll fixate and explore every avenue of that idea until it’s exactly what we want. I guess plainly, we do not really know how to do anything in moderation, and to an extent, maybe the reason why we put some much care and effort into our relationship is because we love hard and unabashedly.
Speaking of that “not doing anything halfway” thing, my story is essentially a byproduct of that. When I was 25, I had what I like to call my quarter life crisis when I abandoned my very stable and predictable life for any 25 year old girl from Los Angeles. I was living with my boyfriend of 5 years whom I had every intention of marrying, was one semester away from earning my teaching credential, and was thriving in a management role at popular tutoring company. The only way I can really describe my quarter life crisis was that I suddenly woke up one morning and realized I wasn’t happy. My relationship, though rooted in a love I don’t know if I will ever find again, had run its course and I was not ready to settle down into a permanent teaching career at whatever local high school decided to hire me. My life was in no means bad, but I felt stagnant and complacent. So, in a matter of weeks, I broke up with my boyfriend, found a job teaching English at a high school in Budapest, Hungary, and got on a plane halfway across the world before I ever really had time to reconsider. And this move was truly the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
So now, after completing 2 years of teaching in Hungary and having insane experiences from manically traveling around Europe (I’m up to 36 countries), I have decided to jump ship again by abandoning my life’s professional work in education for a new career. I just moved to Warsaw, Poland a couple weeks ago to accept a position as a digital marketing specialist at a tech start-up. It’s new, it’s scary, but it’s incredibly exciting as I am learning a brand new industry in a brand new country. I have also been lucky enough to already find an amazing international social circle through the help of ExpatsPoland. Despite the challenges that accompany moving to new countries with opposite cultures of California, I can genuinely say that I am the happiest I have ever been.
Now that you know me, kind of, I’m happy to share that I will be guest blogging on here every so often about my personal experiences, crazy travel stories, and how I have been able to grow into someone that I am genuinely proud of. So to follow suit with the vibe of many of Chasin Unicorn’s blog posts, for my first entry I thought I’d share the “mantras” I’ve learned to live by since I moved to Eastern Europe.
Do Something Everyday that Scares You.
While I understand most people aren’t going to move continents for the sake of getting out of their comfort zones, for me, moving to Hungary was the gateway finding a new definition of independence I never knew existed. I won’t sugar coat it, moving somewhere as distant as Eastern Europe by myself was scary. It still is scary. It’s unstable. It can be unbearably lonely. But the sense of accomplishment that comes from making a new place your home would be nowhere near as validating without these inevitable feelings.
Whether it is basic communication, buying an international phone plan, or ordering at a restaurant, moving to Hungary and now Poland has naturally put me in positions that required me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable everyday. Ironically, now I find that when I’m back home, I’m not scared of things I used to dread. I am not afraid to eat alone at restaurants now, I don’t get embarrassed if someone catches me passionately singing alone in my car (probably stuck in park in 405 traffic), and I’m not intimidated by public transportation any more. I’ve found that the more willing I am to put myself out there, the more at ease I am with being unapologetically myself.
Self-Care is Number One
Like Chasin Unicorn’s mission to promote self-care as a complete physical and emotional experience, whatever your personal definition of self-care is, never neglect it! I will not even try to compete with Sam’s tear-inducing blog posts advocating to treat yourself like the goddess that you are, so I’ll be a little more superficial.
I’m definitely not claiming to be a poster child for always treating my body like a temple, but I have found a direct correlation between my personal happiness and working out and pampering. I swear on my life that after I get a bikini and eyebrow wax, a spray tan, and have a good week of working out/dieting, I could literally cure cancer. For me personally, learning to lift weights gave me back that work out addiction I had been missing since I quit soccer. Now if I take too much time off the gym, I can feel a tangible difference in my mindset.
The first thing I did when I moved to Budapest was find a gym, which was no easy feat with the language barrier. But even on the other side of the world and through my bff google translate, there was no shortage of gym promotions that helped me eventually find the perfect gym for me. If I can find a way tostay active through semi-frequent debilitating hangovers in countries that have impossible languages to learn, literally anyone can.
Never Miss the Opportunity to:
- Smile at a stranger
- Give a genuine compliment
- Say thank you more than you should
- Tell someone I love you
I have always been known for being…expressive. Like.. it would not be out of the ordinary for me to tell someone I love them after knowing each other for all of 8 minutes if we vibe. I end every phone call with some variation of a love declaration paired with a pet name. Honestly, I have no idea what personal space or social boundaries are. So while I’ve learned to tone down some of my abrasively loving mannerisms, I’ve found the power of the aforementioned gestures carry a lot of weight.
I had no idea how impactful these actions could be until I moved somewhere where the locals have notoriously pessimistic attitudes (understandably so, both Poland and Hungary have gone through some impressively awful shit in their recent histories). Pretty much any Hungarian I have ever met has commented on, and been horribly confused by, my natural instinct to smile. I always received comments that “I forced” them (Hungarians) to smile or they would claim that their positive attitudes only came about when they were around me. Like Chasin Unicorn’s mission to spread self-love and positivity, take that initiative on yourself to continue the movement. Compliment someone when their features stick out to you, say thank you to the waiter even if service isn’t perfect, smile at anyone you catch eye contact with in public, and never hold back from telling people you care about how you feel about them. You never know when your small but sincere comment can make a dramatic difference in someone’s day or outlook.
Never Accept Anything as Permanent
If you would have asked me when I turned 25 if I ever imagined that three years from then, I would have lived in two different countries in Eastern Europe, started a new career, and traveled to a new country every 6 weeks, I would have laughed in your face. A big problem I had in coming to terms with my break up and growing the courage to start my new life was that I had accepted the world as it was in front of me. I thought it was normal to feel stuck because that’s how life works; you are supposed to deal with the ups and the downs. While you of course cannot control everything life throws at you, you do have the power to control how you react to it. Now, my life is anything but permanent, which I think again illustrates my propensity to take things to extremes compared to the average person. I don’t have a ten year plan, I don’t have a retirement fund, and plainly, I don’t know what country I’ll be in tomorrow, but I’m happy. And more than anything, I am excited to see who I will be six months from now.
Never ever forget that you always have the power to take charge of your life and build it into whatever you want it to be (I think you call this manifesting or something, right Sam? ;P).
- Laura Dibiase @deeeebss