The Art of Flexibility
During one of the first lectures we received on semester at sea, we were told we would be “using the F word a lot”, which brought some natural chuckles from a room full of college aged students. After the laughter subsided, the lecturer told us the F word stood for “flexibility”, and that it was something we were going to have to get good at. Within the first 4 hours in our first port, the plans my friends and I had so neatly arranged were changed and we realized just how flexible we were going to have to be. I thank Semester at Sea almost every day for this lesson, because without it I think that I wouldn’t be able to survive Australia.
When I first booked my flight to Australia, the arrangement was that I would be living and working for a family from January 2013-January 2014, which I was very excited about. They emailed me a few months later to let me know that they were expecting a new baby in March, and that because the mother would be on maternity leave, they wouldn’t need me from April-October. They offered me the chance to back out. This was about two months before I was set to leave. I was excited about working for them so I decided I would just stay with them for three months, and move back to the states early May, giving me one month to travel. My whole year I had planned out was suddenly completely different. I told myself “Just be flexible”
The finish date we mutually agreed on was March 20th, and from there I was planning on spending a weekend in Melbourne before moving up to Brisbane. About two weeks into February I received a text from my host mom that essentially said “We’re shorter on money than expected and need you to end February 26th”. Oh. So my house and my only source of income is going to be gone in less than two weeks? Awesome. I had a few moments of sheer panic, but then I remembered to just be flexible. So I found a job and I found a place to stay.
I was living with a couchsurfer who said I could stay with him as long as I needed, and I was excited about that. I started working a few days per week as a waitress while pursuing other babysitting jobs during the day, and actively handing out my resume. Then my host told me I couldn’t stay any longer because his work/school schedule was just too hectic, which again gave me a moment of panic. “Just be flexible” I said to myself again, and I thanked him for letting me stay with him while I could.
I continuously watch the plans I make fall apart and turn into something so absurdly different from what I’ve originally planned, but I’m doing my best to not stress out too much and to keep my flexibility in tact, because I look around at everything that I DO have and everything that HAS gone right, and I can’t help but smile and be thankful for all of the things that went wrong… because if they had gone wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and where I am today brings a smile to my face.