5 years… already 5 years since I decided to change my life. In 5 years, I have grown up, learnt more about myself and others and I have also understood that with time it is important to listen your own instinct, pursue your dreams, and be aware of the signs that life puts in our path. I became French Australian.
There I was, leaving France with only two suitcases and my dreams… Who would have believed that I would be writing this article 5 years later. After all, at the start in Melbourne and during these 5 years, I can’t say that everything has been simple and rose-coloured (as we say in French). Of course, I would change a few details if I could, however I quite like my story because this experience allowed me to learn about myself and has given me fantastic lessons in life.
Stepping out of my comfort zone
Travelling has always appealed to me because each trip has allowed me to push my limits a bit further. Discovering a new country where all your norms and values are turned upside down. The inability to speak a language, discovering unknown landscapes, smells, sensations and feelings which can sometimes make us lose our bearings. Then oui Australia, this strange land, has been and still is for me a source of discovery about people but also about myself, my strengths, my fears, my doubts, “mes amours et mes emmerdes” (my loves and my hassles) as Charles Aznavour would say. The fear that people wouldn’t understand me in English and I can tell you this happens a lot, the difficulty in communicating and sharing with others when we have different cultures, a different sense of humour, different education and a different way of seeing and approaching life. Yes Australia you totally push me out of my comfort zone.
After all in France I knew how things worked, whereas here I had to learn and re-learn everything: language and not only verbal (be careful to the pronunciation of “coke” if you order it) but also body language, economic and political organisation, the administrative system (going to the bank for the first time to open an account armed with every possible document and being told with a smile that “it’s not like in France”, indeed my account was opened in few minutes), finding an apartment and accepting initially to live with 10 young people in a house, people who only thought about two things: going out and getting drunk by 8pm; finding a job without having great English and noticing that we do not have the same way of working, accepting work as a waitress when you are used to managing your own business…and so much more. Yes, there is nothing more thrilling than living life outside of our comfort zone with the feeling that you are living life to the full and enjoying the fact that you are capable of a lot of things because we are the only actor or actress of our own life.
Certainly one of my biggest mistakes was not to stay true to myself. Let me explain. You arrive in a country where you know no one, with a great desire to learn about Aussies. You start to make some “friends” with people who have nothing in common with you, you are surprised by these people moving closer but you want to keep an open mind and adapt to your new friendships. This resulted in me experiencing a lot of unfortunate situations when I realised that some people were just using me and obviously did not share the same meaning of friendship (because let me tell you for French people friendship is like a love story but let’s keep this topic for another article). However these unhappy friendships from yesterday have allowed me to appreciate my real friends today even more.
Do not forget that even if we live overseas there are some universal values that have to be shared such as respect, a genuine interest for others and kindness (please read my previous article “the elegance of the heart”).
Living in a country where the culture is significantly different doesn’t mean that we have to disown our own culture in favour of our new culture, but it means that we have to be enough smart to mix both cultures, appreciate both and be grateful to be able to take the best of each. Then I decided to sort things out and it took me almost 4 years to know who and what I really wanted in my life. Guess what? Once you clean up your life, you have space to connect with genuine people and reconnect with your inner you. Staying yourself is essential, do not force things, friendships, learn to say “no” or “non” and sometimes “merde” to toxic people
Believe in my dreams
Today it seems natural to me, I believe firmly in my dreams and I now understand that I am the architect of my life, I design it, I shape my dreams with time and do everything to make them happen.
5 years ago I made this crazy bet to give up everything and head to the other side of the planet with just two suitcases and my pathetic English but with a deep conviction that everything was possible. Today I speak English (that I have to improve every day of course because everything comes with time and perseverance), I am surrounded with wonderful friends who have become family, I have a business partner who has become a friend with whom I share the same vision of French-style excellence, I have a husband who I love, who loves me and who also believes in my dreams and shares them.
I especially understood that the more you believe in your dreams, the more you are able to realise them, the more you move forward in life and the more you live in harmony with yourself and with the feeling that you are living the present moment in the right place.
Recently I had an interesting experience that gave me a beautiful lesson of life and reassured me with regard to this idea. For my blog, I contacted a very well-known comedian in France (read my interview with Gad Elmaleh). With more than a million of followers on his social media, I’ll let you calculate the chances I had of him answering my interview request. Nevertheless I believed in it and he responded. I had the honour of interviewing him and I even met him. This really inspired me in my personal and professional life because although I said to myself “yes Caro everything is possible if you believe in it and no matter what people think”, from now on I am thoroughly convinced.
Build confidence, trust myself
To believe in my dreams, it is necessary to believe in myself before anything else and to be self-confident. And that it is certainly the most difficult but the most important point. When we are self-confident, the fears dissipate. I think I learnt this through my travels of course but also with age; after 35, I explored my femininity, my energy as woman and I learnt to like my faults and to accept them.
Occasionally I have the feeling that everything sped up when I came to Australia and I think it’s actually true. Today at almost 39 years old, I feel fulfilled. I launched myself into new adventures with Fren’Chic Touch but also with a new business partner giving me another new challenge: make French design shine in Asia-Pacific through our boutique My Parisiennes (online very soon).
To trust myself is to accept and learn to let go. This confidence allows me to forge ahead, to not get lost in pointless things in life (such as jealousies, financial concerns, complicated relationships…) but to envisage relations with others in a different and more authentic way. By being authentic with others I become authentic with myself and I can cultivate this trust.
It is also being demanding with myself and not being afraid of being who I am. It is necessary to take risks to move forward, making room only for positive thoughts, sometimes questioning my own behaviour or actions and appreciating what I have achieved.
Once this confidence has been established, a breath of freedom seizes me and gives me the strength to become myself.
Live now and only now
According to me all this has to be done with a deep connection to the present moment.
I regularly have the impression that we, French people, do not live enough the present, maybe is it due to our history, a sometimes conservative and nostalgic mindset because of our long and rich heritage? I do not know. In coming to Australia, a young and dynamic country, I was extremely surprised to notice how much Aussies can be connected to the present. It was almost a shock for me and I have to say that it required me to make many adjustments to get used to it. To this day, I am still adjusting.
I now attach a lot of importance for the quality of presence. 5 years have already past and nevertheless I remember arriving in Saint-Kilda like it was yesterday. Under a cloudy sky, I can still feel the slight breeze caressing the face of a French woman amazed to be on the other side of the planet. Seeing time pass by so quickly, every day I understand how precious it is to cherish our moments, precious moments shared with the people we love and to never lose an opportunity to say oui to life and to the gifts that it gives us.
Every day I learn a little bit more from Australia, about Aussies, about this feeling of belonging to humanity and yet there are so many details that differ between us Aussies and Frenchies, in our way of living life, our way of thinking, of speaking and even sometimes in how we love. Today I take the best of each culture, I apply my recipe of happiness a little bit like fusion cuisine (as Aussies like), a fine balance between the ingredient “la vie est belle” French twist and the “no worries” Aussie style.
A big thank you to all who I have met on my journey, to my friends who really care, are there for me and have the patience to listen to me and love me the way I am but also to my enemies, the jealous ladies who have crossed my path, who taught me to nurture elegance of the heart.
Correction: NHM Translation