Do You Need A Set Notion of Home?
Three weeks ago, we asked our community to share their stories about quitting with intention.
We were instantly moved and inspired by your personal stories of quitting the very thing that is preventing you from creating a space for more positive ways to contribute to the world.
Here is one of your stories…
By: Carolyn Gonglefski, Business Unit Director & Unsettled: Marrakesh alum
After a 18-month work contract brought me from New York to Paris, I was desperate to stay. But without a carte de séjour, or residency card, I could not be hired. And sans work contract, there was no hope for residency papers. For expats in my situation, there are typically two options: get married or enroll in a French university program. My relationship with a French boyfriend was under a year old, and I still had to finish my American Masters dissertation to complete the degree. So I opted for a third, improbable route that led me to a job interview at a legal headhunting firm on the over-touristic Champs-Elysées, and by consequence, a quest for discovery and independence that characterizes my life mission.
I had applied for a marketing position at a British law firm, but unbeknownst to me I was being interviewed for an office assistant position at their boutique recruitment agency. The job involved calls, mail, making appointments, and just enough search engine optimization and Google Adwords to earn me the title of “Marketing Assistant”. The company sponsored me for my carte de séjour, and I worked for a minimum wage as a paid intern for a few months until I became a legal, salaried employee. I had managed to do what seemed impossible, but I was miserable there. My colleagues’ stories of private business clubs and Parisian real estate endeavours were so foreign to me that I felt like an intruder every time I walked through the door. I dreamt about leaving but knew that I would be taking a crazy risk; there was only a slight chance that my work papers would be renewed, even if I found a new job. My struggle – and subsequent success – to stay in France was in jeopardy, as was my mental health and personal integrity.
I timidly gave in my notice and immediately felt lighter. In the weeks that followed I received two job offers, and I chose to join a start-up in international education event management and marketing – where I am still employed to this day. Over the past 12 years I criss-crossed 4 continents and ran an air-tight international operation while I helped the company grow from 6 to 150 employees. Today my role is based in our Paris office, but takes me to learning conferences in Vancouver, partner visits in Korea, and company leadership retreats at a resort on the Greek coast. Nine years ago we opened a subsidiary company in Sofia, Bulgaria, which has become somewhat of a second home to me over the years.
For my 10 year work anniversary with Advent Group in 2018, my company sponsored the personally enriching and enhancing experience of a two-week retreat in Marrakesh with Unsettled. It was during this adventure that I realized that not only do I strive to embrace the unknown, but that my comfort zone – previously limited to the United States and France – is now extended the world over. In the case of Morocco, I spoke French with the locals, I made valuable friends amongst my fellow sojourners, and I asked myself questions that were previously foreign and (personally) taboo. Not questioning the how, but interrogating the why and the now is what counts in the end. While I am now fully settled in Paris, the notion of home proves to need never be set.