Updated: Sep 23, 2018
A few months ago I wrote a piece for the Irish times about the positives of returning to Ireland. I had an inkling that when I begun looking for work that my experiences about moving home might change. Up until this point I was living a dream, road trips and travelling around Europe. Visiting family and friends and embracing my love of Ireland again. However things did change. Here is the account of my experiences, everyone’s experience is different. This is just how it happened for me. Perhaps due to my naivety and lack of preparation.
‘One’s attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure’. One of the most profound pieces of advice I have ever received. Simple but needed with all the uncertainty travel and living abroad can bring. Luckily, I love adventures and definitely have a ‘win or learn’ mentality. I have zero regrets about my move home to Ireland. The move has been nothing less than an adventure. An adventure where I have learned so much about myself ,my career, my long term life plans and what life is really going to be like in Ireland. I had to come back to Ireland to learn all of these things.
When I returned from my travels in August I was clear about what I wanted and needed. I wanted to live on the west coast of Ireland and have my own place. At 29 and after ten years of house sharing. I was over it . I wanted to have my own home. Also I had my idea of my ideal career and job in Ireland. Ideas of travelling to parts of Europe every few months and having an income to both save for the future and travel. In order to get this I manifested what I desired, sent it out to the universe, stayed positive and visioned my life as I wanted it. I applied for numerous jobs that I was interested in, telling myself I have to have a good chance of getting one. Days spent applying for jobs that I knew I was capable of and had experience in.
So what happened next. Well the adventure really begun. After a few months I began to realise I had been a blind optimist. I was afraid to be negative about moving home. I didn’t want to be the person who was home sick in Australia then back in Ireland and being negative too. I thought that constant positive thoughts and affirmations would get me through the difficulties. What I have realised is that being negative and realistic are two different things.
So what are the realistic things I was blinded by:
I have moved back to a country where I have no experience in my profession. All my post- grad experience is from Australia. In Australia I worked very hard to build my career. I returned home and had to start from scratch. In Australia I never went for an interview and didn’t get the job. In Ireland I did one application to the next to the next…and nothing. Not an acknowledgement of the application nor an interview, nothing. After four years of extensive work in Australia it was tough getting nothing back. I felt like I was a new graduate again. Yes there are jobs in Ireland but I had no idea how competitive it is and forgot how educated and skilled everyone is here.
I cannot afford to buy a house in Ireland nor can I afford to rent my own place. Rent in Ireland and especially Dublin is nearly on par with Sydney prices, except the wages to do not match the high prices of rent. This has been one of the hardest realisations for me. Moving home I knew I would be taking about a $20,000 wage cut but I was sure the cost of living and rent would be way lower. Wrong Elaine. Maybe in rural places in Ireland they are but I also came to realisation that the very specific social work jobs that I want aren’t on the west coast of Ireland. They are predominately in Dublin. I also can’t deny that my extortionate car insurance quote hasn’t frustrated me or the fact that I’m classed as a non EU citizen if I want to return to education.
So its October. Three months nearly unemployed. 3 months claiming job seekers benefit. No money to do what I love to do. So I decide to take a job with Tusla ( Child Protection area). Something I said I would not do. Maybe I will love it, I thought naively. The day before I started work, my Mam said to me. Didn’t you say you wouldn’t do this type of social work. I was running out of options, I couldn’t stand to stay unemployed for any longer, my savings were dwindling, I was craving a routine again and I heard nothing back from all the other jobs I applied for. Day one. Oh god. I went home that day and my world seemed different. Hazy. I contemplated that my Irish dream was over. I had started working in Children in Care which is known for being the most difficult area of social work in Ireland. I was warned. But I had no idea. I came across some articles on journal.ie where social workers discussed working in Children in Care in Ireland. Here are some quotes from those articles , which I feel I could have written myself.
“In Ireland Social workers cant do their jobs properly due to under resourcing’. ‘The impact on your sanity is incredible: One social worker per week resigning’. ‘Every social worker I speak to has an exit plan, its impossible, its not something you can stay in’. ‘I don’t want to be apart of a system that was causing children and families more harm and stress’.
So I knew that type of work wasn’t for me. So now that the only job I had got offered was not a long term option and no other opportunities had come up, I made the decision to return to Australia. I discussed it with my Mam and started to look up jobs in Sydney. I moved home to be close to my support network but if I could not get employment or be in a job I like I’m afraid family and friends cannot replace that. Having a career and my own financial independence is very important to me. It wasn’t until after months of unemployment in Ireland that I realised that.
In November just after I made the decision to return to Australia I get an interview for a job I had applied for in Dublin. I got the job. A very good job. I will now move to Dublin. Live in a house share with strangers for the same price as my friends mortgage for her three bed house down the country. But you know what Im excited. I cant wait to live in Dublin and I believe this job is worth doing a house share for. So Australia I wont be back just yet.
I also am very very grateful for the time I got to spend at home when I was looking for work. Picking vegetables from the garden, spending hours cooking for my parents, renovating old furniture, writing, baking with my grandmother and just being close to everyone I love.
However, in the past few weeks in particular, I have felt lost, anxious and not myself at all. I mean my mental health has not been this rocky for years. As hard as things were being home sick in Australia and different challenges that I faced there, the last few weeks and months have actually been harder. I was very easily agitated, low mood, not my smiley positive self, I lost weight, I was less active and found it impossible to have a conversation with at least one negative thing coming out. I went from earning a lot of money to being on social welfare for months. It was months of constantly watching everything I spent. I didn’t have the money to eat out or go on road trips around Ireland. I couldn’t finance any of the things that I wrote about that were the positives aspects of moving home. My confidence was knocked big time by not getting interviews or hearing anything back. I was living back with my parents, in a small town. I was used to complete independence and the anonymity of a big city. I also had to change my visions . I would not be able to live on the west coast of Ireland and I wouldn’t be renting my own place. Not only has it been difficult but also I think the older I’m getting the harder I find change and unpredictability.
Once I started to be realistic about the struggles and admit to myself that things had been difficult I started to feel better. Life is about being adaptable and learning and growing and embracing the adventure. What I have realised that sometimes in life you cannot have it all and life is about managing what you don’t have and being truly grateful for what you do have. The last few months have been scary at times, but through struggles come growth and I feel stronger and more focused than ever. The grass isn’t greener on the either side of the world, but one needs to look down and take the time to fertilise the grass your standing on but at the same time follow your desires and passions and never settle.
I have no doubt that the adventure will continue. Both the struggles and the joys.
Questions I would ask people who are thinking about returning to Ireland;
Are their jobs in Ireland that you would love or will you have to compromise? Have you applied for jobs that you have genuine interest in to see if you get an interview? In your profession are most of the job opportunities in Dublin? If so can you afford to live there? Are you ready to potentially have to give up the extravagant lifestyle that you have overseas?
Moving home I’ve realised requires more of a clear plan, really researching the opportunities and even having a job already set up if you can.