Lifestyle

RIGHTSIZING MY LIFE: DECAMPING TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD

“Rightsizing”—it used to be a sinister term, a euphemism rolled out by tycoons laying plans to throw hundreds of employees out of work. To us at Women’s Voices, though, “rightsizing” signifies making appropriate change—looking positively at the transitions we need to make as we head into the second half of life. This article is part of a series by writers who have made those transitions—both the easy ones, mentally or physically, and the hard ones. —Ed

 

Though I was born and grew up in Washington, D.C., I consider myself a New Yorker.  I did live in New York City a bit longer than I lived in Washington, though the truth is that I considered myself a New Yorker the minute I landed there. New York and I just clicked from the very beginning.  New York City is in my blood. Which is why no one is more surprised than I am that I am writing this from my new (temporary?) home in Sydney, Australia.

I moved here in the fall of 2015 for what I thought was a two-year assignment in the Sydney office of the global company for which I work, Kantar TNS.  The short version of the story is that I had worked in the New York City office for the same company, developed a couple of relationships with a few Aussies, and let them persuade me to come work with them.

Though somewhat taken aback at first, I finally agreed to a two-year stint. I had never been to Australia, and, though I’m pretty sure I never really wanted to just up and move to the other side of the world, I figured I could do anything for two years.  Plus, in the back of my mind I was looking for some sort of adventure, and this sure felt like one.  I was 59, and had been spending more than a few minutes thinking about what I wanted my “old age” to be like.

It seemed as if I would too often find myself with similarly aged people who spent much too much time talking about things they used to do.  I had no intention of living in the past, and didn’t believe my best years were behind me.  So, I said yes to Sydney.

If this move has taught my anything, it’s that as much as I think I know myself . . . in some ways I really don’t.  And it’s pretty cool that I can still surprise myself.  I love traveling and have been around the world to many wonderful places, but I was sure that NYC was the only real place for me.  And yet here I am on the other side of the world and enjoying this new chapter in my life in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

Sydney is beautiful.  Aussies are friendly people.  My job is great.  Everything feels easier here. And I have an apartment with an amazing view that reminds me every morning and night of how lucky I feel to be here.

The view from Eleanore Wells’s bedroom.

And I am sad to say that there are things about the current state of affairs in the U.S. that I don’t miss: the mass shootings, the ever-more-visible racism and anti-Semitism, the shootings of unarmed black people by cops who are never prosecuted, the overall political climate.  I feel safe here.  Physically. Emotionally.

I am now one year and a few months into what would be a two-year assignment . . . except that it isn’t.  The folks on this side were pretty sure that I would be a good fit for Sydney-the-city and our Sydney office.  So my “two-year contract” actually didn’t have an end date.  I somehow never picked up on that.  Our HR director pointed that out to me recently when she was testing the waters on my propensity to stay longer.

Moving to a new country is quite a joy, but is also more than a notion.  I am continually required to live outside my comfort zone—which, I’ve decided, is mostly a good thing.  I love the idea that I’m still growing.  I’m doing lots of things that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been doing if I still lived in New York City—1, because I didn’t have to, and 2, because my life in New York City was what I wanted it to be and I didn’t see a reason to make any big changes. And yet I did . . . and I continue to.

Join the conversation

  • AA April 28, 2017 at 9:18 am

    So happy you have embraced your new life! Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply
  • Dr Pat April 28, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Dear Eleanor,
    We loved hearing from you and are thrilled that this adventure has become the right sized life for you at 60! Your story is a tempting template for many of us who would like to create a new life experience with work that is interesting and an entire circle of new friends. Now I have someone to visit in Sydney!
    Thanks so much for writing.
    Dr Pat

    Reply
    • eleanore wells April 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks so much for continuing to give me the opportunity to share my voice, Pat. The “rightsizing” series is perfect. I do hope you’ll visit Sydney while I’m here!

      Reply