On giving up vs. moving on

I came to Vienna to build a new life from the ground up. I’d done it before, so I could do it again, I reasoned.

I was in for the long haul. I had a job offer, but everything else was up for grabs. I was going to learn German, make friends, bake strudel, take a lover… All of it. But, just 4 months on, I’m clutching a one-way plane ticket out of town, with none of the aforementioned goals accomplished.

Unlike the first time I swanned off to an unfamiliar country, I was under no illusion that starting from scratch in Austria would be easy. What I wasn’t prepared for was that everything would go wrong. I’ve lost my job (and begged it back again), been threatened with eviction, thrown out of the Opera, and fallen on my arse in the snow. There’s a reason why most of the posts on this blog are categorized under ‘disaster’.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be difficult to justify my decision to leave. And yet… It is very hard for me not to see it as giving up, as running away, as a failure. I’ve often had difficulties in drawing the line between persistence and fruitless self-flagellation. Too often, I’ve tended towards the latter, refusing to give in and ‘fail’ rather than just admit that something wasn’t for me, or just hasn’t, for reasons beyond my control, worked out.

This stubborn streak has its advantages. It got me, an equation-averse asthmatic, through chain-smoking Bob Hargrave’s underground logic classes in my first year at Oxford. It’s how I managed to stick out living in Barcelona with no friends for months until I’d learned enough Spanish to communicate with the locals (at which point I was informed that they’d rather speak Catalan, thankyouverymuch!).

But, you know what? While gritting your teeth through the pain yields rewards, it isn’t really advisable as a long-term strategy. At some point, you have to learn how to construct a life that, while challenging, is, you know… live-able!

So, farewell Vienna! It’s not me, it’s YOU!

I’m not giving up. I’m moving on.