I stumbled upon anonsparis’s article on Saint Génevieve while sorting through pages of unread blogs and articles. Although an interesting article, what caught my eye was the phrase “fluctuat nec mergitur.” Having never heard of it, I immersed my self in further research.
Fluctuat nec mergitur is a Latin phrase that also happens to be the city motto of Paris. It is roughly translated to “he who rises with the wave is not swallowed by it.” Apparently, this phrase along with the coat of arms has its origins in the Seine River’s boatman corporation. This league, which was originally a trading organization and eventually turned into more of a government, is credited for the arms and motto the Mairie de Paris stills has today.
I find this cool for multiple reasons.
My time in France has not been an easy journey. I went from the shackles of an au pair job in an isolated village to make the struggle to legally work for a French company and live in the center of Paris alone. There were countless days I wanted to give up. A few of those days there was little holding me back from packing my bags. There came a time I couldn’t breath I was so overwhelmed by the constant sea of no’s from the angry French workers behind the threatening desks of the Prefecture. It was the first time in my life that I thought no matter how hard I work for this, I am not going to get it. My dream was sitting right in front of me and I did everything I needed to do—I got the job, I found the flat, I made arrangements to move—but there was still the French administration’s hammer that kept beating me down. There was no reason. Just no. Numerous calls of tears and frustration to my family back home happened, but I was always welcomed with support and love. As much as they wanted me home, they knew my heart was in Paris and wouldn’t want me to leave it. With the majority of my friends, including my best friend, having to go home or were back home on holiday, I had to deal with a lot of it by myself. The stress of it all even started affecting my health and after the slew of sinus infections and colds, I was plagued with another rare condition which made matters even worse.
Somehow I kept going. I kept fighting. I wanted it. I wanted the little flat that overlooks Sacre Couer. I wanted the challenge of thinking and working in two languages. I wanted the experience of making it on my own in a foreign country. What I didn’t want was to give up. All of these hardships and obstacles made me want it even more. It made me want to prove everyone wrong telling me about the impossibilities of this but more importantly prove myself right that I was able to do this even when complete doubt took over.
It took 11 months.
So this is why I find it quite a coincidence that Paris holds a motto that I would associate with my time here. There were times I thought I was going to be crushed but I held my head above water. I took the burdens and made them my strength and motivation. And of course there was the occasional time my family or Aggie pulled me out of the water when drowning sounded like the better option than continuing to fight a seemingly impossible battle.
I don’t mean this as a “toot my own horn” post or even a “hey feel sorry for all the s*** I went through” post. That is actually the 2 reactions I would want least from this. It is more of a reflection and inspirational post. Looking back I still can’t believe I made it. But it is proof that things are possible no matter how many people tell you no or how weak you think you are. Courage and perseverance can make your dreams a reality. It is easy to get bogged down or overwhelmed with hardships going on in your life but there is always another way to getting what you want.
And once you go through all the hard stuff, what’s on the other side seems even better than you imagined.