It’s been two weeks in the big city, though sometimes it still feels like it was just yesterday that I stepped off the plane.
Let no one tell you that a change of this magnitude is easily overcome… it isn’t!
I was born brave, stubborn and adventurous and already I’ve been reduced to tears more than once, for something as silly as getting buildings confused.
What I’ve mostly learnt (or relearned…) is that success depends mainly on your attitude and perspective; I was reminded of this yesterday when once again life put an obstacle in my way:
To get to work, I enter the blue line in the underground Metro which takes me to a station called Marquês de Pombal where I switch to the yellow line that takes me straight to Entrecampos where I work.
As simple as this whole system may sound, I’ve found myself on the wrong side of the tracks a few times, not to mention the times where I was distracted and got off at the wrong station… like anything in life, it takes some getting used to.
And while all those mishaps may seem like mini-crises in the first few days, nothing could’ve prepared me for complication that awaited me next.
It was only when I arrived at Marquês de Pombal and felt like a Sardine in an ocean of people that I realised that something was wrong… the yellow line broke!
Hundreds of people, hot and irritated swore under their breath at the mechanical failures that were keeping them from getting to work.
Work! How on earth was I getting to work now?!!
Repressing the upcoming panic, I closed my eyes and forced it to subside while I considered my options:
I could wait with the crowd until the line got fixed but from the looks of the things, I realised that the solution was in slow progress and I had only twenty minutes to be at work on time.
I could go up and take a bus, but I had no idea where the buses could be found, much less guess which one to take!
The easiest solution then seemed to be to take a cab, but after taking one look at my empty purse I realised that unless I found an ATM on the way, taking a taxi wasn’t an option.
Standing against the wall with the desire to sit on a corner and cry, I decided to give myself five minutes just to stop and look around me.
It was as if I’d removed myself from the picture and confusion and when I came to, I was looking at the map of the underground when it occurred to me that if I went back onto the blue line, I could reach Praça de Espanha, which I was told wasn’t too far from where I worked.
I’d arrive late, but instead of worrying I decided to embrace my sense of adventure!
With a smile on my face and free from all traces of panic, I got back on the blue line and got off at Praça de Espanha.
Of course when I got out, I felt even more lost!
Nothing looked familiar to me, all the buildings seemed different and all the streets looked the same. I had no clue as to where I was or which direction I should be going. I asked an old man who didn’t seem too sure but at least he pointed me in the right direction, and so… I walked.
I walked past a theatre, then past a museum and an Opel stand. There were no signs that said “Entrecampos” or “Feira Popular” so I walked in the direction of Campo Pequeno where I once had coffee with my colleagues.
I couldn’t have walked more than ten or fifteen minutes but it began feeling like hours and I once again found myself having to suppress the panic.
It’s not that I was afraid I wouldn’t get there… I knew I would eventually; it’s just that the thought of arriving an hour late at work did serious damage to my self discipline.
Once again closing my eyes, I asked for a little help from my angels. If nothing more, I managed to relax and find my sense of North (In this case my instincts are more reliable than the compass on my phone!!!).
And as I crossed the corner… there it was! Two blocks ahead of me was the blue building I’d been searching for. I arrived a mere eleven minutes late to work.
It’s easy to panic, to lose your self-control and fall into despair.
Many mornings I wake up staring at my phone running through the names of people I’d like to call and radio in for help. Some mornings many names go through my head, sometimes none… Truth is, I’m aware that none of them can work miracles on my self confidence, that job is all up to me.
I’ve learnt that the hero we search for lies within us and sometimes we just have to shut out the sounds of the world in order to hear her voice.
It’s true that no (wo)man is an island, we all depend on one another to live healthier and more fulfilled lives. But while we may have a thousand hands of friends willing to help us get up, none of them can make that decision for us. The attitude and perspective in which we choose to see the world and ourselves, depends solely on us.
Have Courage, but above all my friends… Have Faith.