The musings of a wanderer......

Feeling Very Conflicted…

I’m currently in the midst of a trip to my 2 homes of Canada and Seattle, and while I’m super happy to be home, I’m also feeling very conflicted. You see this last month I’ve been processing a lot of emotions. My time in Saudi is coming to an end. And while a big part of me is ready to leave, there’s a part of me that feels like I have unfinished business there. There’s still a bunch of places in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia I would like to visit. Farasan Islands. Taif. Hail. I work with a great bunch of people at work, and for the most part I enjoy my job. Truth be told, it is by far the easiest nursing job I’ve ever had. Far easier than any bedside nursing jig I would get in Canada or the U.S.. Since I work on a VIP unit here in Saudi that’s not to say that dealing with VIP patients doesn’t present a whole world of other challenges to caring for this type of patient. But most days I really don’t mind it.

As I’ve already mentioned I will be leaving Saudi in mid September, flying to Paris to meet my dad and then together we will make our way to the village of St Jean Pied de Port which is on the French side of the Pyrenees mountain range. From here we will embark on a 40 day trek/walk to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela some 800km away. We are not camping, and will have a warmish place and a bed to lay our heads every night. We will be packing very light. This will be an incredible challenge for me as I’m only taking 2 pairs of clothes and a set of PJs. I’ve decided not to bring my nice camera with me which will be difficult as I love to take photos, but I just can’t justify carrying the extra weight. I am taking my iPad mini though as I want to have a way to blog on a regular basis about this journey. Once in Santiago we will make the decision to walk another 100km to the coastal town of Finisterre which was believed to be the edge of the world in the Medieval times and is still referred to as such by Pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago. I’ll then make my way to Paris where I’m planning on staying for a month. Then I’m toying with a couple weeks in the UK and then flying back to North America via a stopover in Iceland. Then comes the difficult part……

After Christmas I may keep traveling for another few months. Mexico is calling to me. As is Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand and Laos. But eventually, I will have to make some semi permanent decisions. So here’s the conflicted part……I literally have no idea what to do after that. This will horrify many of my friends and family alike, but the truth is I’m not leaning any one direction over another. I could go back to Saudi for another year. I could move back to Seattle. I could move to Vancouver. I could do any number of things, and this is the first time that my gut is letting me down. When I try and really think about it, or make a plan, because I know that’s what sane people should do (is have a life plan) I just get anxious. And mostly, that’s when I start to think about doing another year in Saudi because the job is easy, the money is decent, and if I stay another year there, I delay having to make any concrete real life decisions. Which I realize isn’t that healthy. Here’s what I do deep down know though- my days of being a bedside nurse are rapidly coming to an end. I’m becoming burnt out of nursing. The thought of returning to the stress that I left at my previous job in Seattle doesn’t interest me. Nor does the rotating day shift/night shift schedule I would have to work if I returned to bedside nursing in Canada. This I know for sure.

The other thing that I know deep deep down is that I want to set aside time just to be. I want a couple months to spent just reading, writing, and doing yoga. I’m sure to some people this sounds like a hugely selfish luxury. And mostly I’m ok with that because I learned a long time ago that I’m not living this one precious life of mine for anyone else, or to meet other people’s expectations. I’m ok with going against the grain. Doing the exact opposite of what society tells us we should be doing. This coming week marks my 20 year graduation from high school. 20 years. How the hell did that happen? I got an invite to the reunion, but it was too last minute for me to change my travel plans and make the trip to Calgary so I’m not going. But I did spend some time looking at (stalking) the Facebook profiles of my fellow classmates. Many of them that I haven’t thought of in well over a decade. While part of me would love to catch up, a big part of me realizes that I’m truly a minority amongst my peers. To be 37, unmarried, never married, living abroad and childless is by far the minority compared with my fellow high school grads. Sometimes I feel like I’m just adrift in the world- since besides having some belongings in storage I truly have nothing to my name. No house, no car, no home to come back to. And while sometimes when I process that it makes my scared or uneasy, more often then not I think of how fortunate I am. Looking back 20 years that young girl who graduated high school could never, ever have envisioned that she would end up spending 3 years of her life living in Saudi Arabia. That she would visit more than 50 countries, and have a deep yearning to see more. That she would become very comfortable with the uncomfortable. It makes me so very curious to see what the next 20 years will bring.

But enough about reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. The present day me is gearing up for this walk across Spain. Researching hiking poles, and rain ponchos and 3 in 1 shampoo/soap/conditioner. The present day me is soaking up this time being home with my friends and family, and thinking about what I can fit into the 2 months I have left in Saudi. I’m sure that 40 days spent walking across Spain will provide me with introspection and answers for the decisions I’ll need to make in the upcoming year. Or at least that’s what my gut is telling me……



  1. Jules

    I can completely relate with how you feel. I feel so many mixed emotions (anxious to sad, with moments of excitement) regarding leaving Saudi and returning to a “normal” life… Will I become bored again? I too, am torn with future decisions and wonder what path I will travel down next… But as stated in a Taoist proverb, ” The journey is the reward,” therefore, we must relax and focus on staying present and enjoy each moment that comes. I know that you will make the best decision when the time is right… xo

  2. Jean

    Yes, you would feel like a fish out of water at your school reunion. Where in Canada would you go back to nursing? Looks like less of a possibility.

    • kristinewanders

      I’d most likely go back to British Columbia. I’d love to live in Vancouver but I’m not so sure that it’s an options given the cost of living and what nurses are actually paid. And yes- fish out of water is a great way to describe how my high school reunion would’ve felt!

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