Where luck is not what took me to the tropics – or what keeps me there

A brief account of how I came to Tonga three years ago, and the effect hearing “I’m so jealous!” has on me -and others who know what it’s like to make choices that are not conventional.

A few of my friends have told me to blog, implying that my life could be so interesting that people could actually want to read about it. I suppose that’s a compliment? So well, I ended up thinking “why not, let’s do this thing” but maybe not for the reasons they thought.

As it turns out, I live in the South Pacific. In Tonga to be less general. In Nuku’alofa, to be specific. That may be a hint as to why people think my life is wonderful… I don’t know, I find it quite normal. But I only assume it’s fair enough I find my own life normal. Right?

People overseas and visitors from overseas alike have told me repeatedly how lucky I was I lived (or was going to) in Tonga. I’m now going to use this simple parallel: if someone from anywhere outside France moved to Paris, wouldn’t their ears split after hearing so much how lucky they were? “Paris! so beautiful! Paris! the city of love!“, but any French person would just laugh right in the face of the starry-eyed fool, or just sigh (especially tired Parisians at the end of a long day that started struggling over squared centimetres of seat in the transportation then elbowing crowds of starry-eyed tourists on their way to their 9-6 or 7 or 9 job – and knowing it was a good day if there was no strike!). Expectations VS experience.

But eh! Paris is beautiful! You just don’t have much time to appreciate it when you live there. It may or may not be the city of love (if there’s such a thing), I don’t know: I was born there, my views are biased. I grew up hearing that was Venice; go figure.

So yes! Tonga! Tonga is beautiful! And I love living here!

But I don’t think I’m lucky. I made choices. There’s two sides to a choice (or more), and I’m pretty happy with the downsides of mine. Hear me: I am. I don’t know you, but you may have a hard time living 18,500 km from where you grew up, from your family, from the food you are used to, from the people who understand your jokes and share in your affliction over your own national politics. As it turns out, I don’t. And I’m not mourning the family + dog home I never founded where school friends and family would come for dinner or Sunday lunch. My “life decisions” have been quite irreconcilable with that path ever since I was 20. Not that I don’t love my parents, siblings and school friends! Not that it can’t be the most exciting trip in one’s life, having and raising kids! I’m just not jealous* of you if that’s what you have chosen to do with your life. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy for you. Don’t be jealous of me: I made my own choices, and I keep doing so. You can always make new choices, it’s up to mostly you (actually, choosing not to change anything is also a choice!).

The paragraph above should have made it clear that luck is not what drives me. It may or may not have been involved with me stumbling upon a job description for a position here while I was actually looking for one in France. But it’s not by chance that my application was sent, that I was interviewed, offered the position and that I eventually chose to take this job rather than the other two that were offered to me that same week.

Quite a gamble, but if the whole thing failed, I would have been the only one I could blame for turning down a long term contract in what seemed a great working environment in the centre of the city where I was born. And I could have kept doing fun creative things with my fun creative friends in Paris.

As it turns out, I’ve been in Tonga for three years and I consistently do fun creative things with my fun, creative Tongan friends whenever I can. But that’s for other posts…

Until then,
‘Ofa atu

*how many times have I heard or read “I’m so jealous of you!”, about myself or anyone that’s successful in what they do??

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4 thoughts on “Where luck is not what took me to the tropics – or what keeps me there

  1. Nice work Virginie, I look forward to reading more posts!
    Ooo, this is a touchy point with me too! I spent many years working 4 days a week. People used to tell me how LUCKY I was to have an extra day off. I would reply – why not talk to your boss about working 4 days? Almost without fail, they would look shocked and say “But I couldn’t afford that!”. Funny how they didn’t think about the sacrifices that go with being ‘lucky’…

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  2. I am not jealous of your way of life, actually I am so proud to have a friend like you, living her own way, making her own choices, not doing what you are told, or do what people expect from you.
    Hopefully you’ll stay long enough in Tonga so I can visit you.
    Et c’est pas des paroles en l’air !!! objectif fixé pour 2017…

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    1. I’ll be here- at least, that’s the plan!
      I’m involved in too many exciting projects that require mid-term commitment to go anywhere further than Auckland (but staying here is definitely the plan!)
      And I know you’re not one of the “jealous”, you’re too smart for that short sighted type of reaction!

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