Andrea Bunod is part of Everyday Women – and in a series during this Summer, we are passing on the word to 24-year-old Parisienne for insights to the city of lights and love, and an honest take on being a young, plus-size woman.
I'm Andrea, a twenty-four-year-old French nurse who moved to Paris just over a year ago. I describe myself as a forever explorer, a food lover and an art lover, so those aspects of myself will obviously stand in my writing. I am also what society calls a plus-size woman.
I feel like it is time for women from everywhere, every shape, every state of mind, every stage of life to embrace their inner strength.
Almost two years ago, I moved to a new environment: the beautiful city of Paris. I left my quiet southern French town for the French capital. Moving to this city was a massive decision for me and I had to trust myself quite solidly to achieve this. But it was one of the most beautiful decisions I’ve made.
READ: Andrea Bunod's 11 favourites of Paris.
Through this blog post I would like to discuss how I managed to move to a new city as a young woman - and how this decision allowed me to move on with my life peacefully.
First, once I chose the city that I wanted to live in, I made to-do lists, many to-do lists, actually. I used the app “Notion”, which is the best to make to-do lists. I made a list of all the procedures that I had to fulfil before/during/after I moved out. I made a list of all the things that I wanted to discover in the city such as parks, art galleries, restaurants, monuments etc. After that, I had to make a list of my entire budget to be able to live in my new city which is way more expensive than my medium size southern French city.
Trusting your gut and making big decisions
After those many lists, I had to choose a new place to work. As a nurse, I can work in very different fields and domains. When I was in the south, I used to work in a special psychiatric unit that took care of prisoners who had psychiatric issues.
I loved my job, but when I had the opportunity to move to Paris, I felt that I needed to try something different, I needed to challenge myself. And that’s what I did: I found a job in a special psychiatric unit that takes care of female patients with severe psychiatric issues and illnesses. The unit that I chose is even more specific and diverse than the previous one. It was actually a huge challenge for me because I never knew that I had the ability to work in this type of critical unit. But I was right in trusting myself because now I feel that I’m blooming as a nurse there.
Moving to a big city can be scary but don’t forget that living in a big city also means big opportunities, even limitless opportunities.
Change means to replace something in a newer or better way. Moving on means going on to a new place or doing something different. Those two definitions helped me to always perceive new projects from an optimistic perspective. So even if I had doubts at the beginning of the journey, I always remembered that I made that choice for the better: to be able to move on with my life, to grow, and change serenely.
How to change a force of habit
Being able to move out and move on with your life also allows you to change your habits and create new ones. Living in the same city, with the same job, and being surrounded by people that support you can be a sign of fulfilment for a lot of people. But it was difficult for me because I also had the feeling that I needed to create a new routine.
When I had my to-do lists, my new job, my new challenges and my freshly started routine, I knew that I had to keep doing things that I truly loved. I allowed myself to start drawing again, something that I love and used as an escape, especially when I was a nurse student. It helped me put all my thoughts, emotions, and even my anxiety, on paper. I also started enjoying great times with my new friends, taking time to go to the gym and taking care of myself.
This weekly activity was very cathartic for me, because I felt truly happy and free. It could be watching a movie, having FaceTime with my best friends, or taking care of my natural hair while eating a take-out. This week I had my hair done in my favourite hair salon and in the evening, I met a childhood friend downtown to have a Caribbean take-away while watching Netflix and laughing as we used to when we were kids.
This change let me explore my creativity and my patience. You have to give yourself time for every step if you want it to be a lifelong adventure and opportunity. When you find yourself alone in an all new environment you can only count on yourself and you need to find many creative ways to go on with your days peacefully. It is way easier to keep using acquired ways and behaviours, but it is so much more challenging and empowering to force yourself to build new ways and behaviours.
I believe that facing and embracing your insecurities allows you to build so much self-confidence and self-worth. I had to do it all when I moved to Paris. I had to force myself to do things that I never thought of doing before, and I truly thank myself for it because I feel so proud right now.
I recently experienced something quite ground-breaking that I thought I was not ready for yet: I met someone incredible and so different from me who challenged every prejudice and fear about commitment and engagement I had. I realised that facing a sincerely loving person who allows you to know yourself can lead to an overwhelming happiness and confidence.
Wherever you go, you should listen to your gut and instincts too. Those primary alarm systems are really effective in taking major decisions, especially when you are young. Always take time to listen to your first impressions and feelings, explore them and try to understand them. By doing this, I know that I’m living now way more peacefully than ever.
READ: How to strengthen your self-confidence and personal development
In conclusion, moving to a new city as a young person permits you to move on with your life for the better - as long as you consider it a positive adventure. But if you want this adventure to be a lifelong opportunity, you need to prepare, to be open-minded, to seize unknown experiences, and push yourself forward. And most importantly: listen to your inner self, because you are your own priority!