Back at home, I took my family and my friends for granted.
Ashamed as I am to admit it, I’ve done it plenty of times. Saying I was busy when I could’ve met up with a friend, revelled in her good mood or lent a shoulder in her bad time. Making excuses everytime my parents reminded me to do something important that I’d forgotten..again. Using the “older sibling card” to make my brother do something under the facade of “I’m just looking out for you; you need to know how to do this when I’m not here with you.” It comes in many forms, but from the same place of over confidence, that there will always be a next time to balance it out with.
Nothing changed on my immediate week of joining the ship, of course. I was too excited about where I was and the people I was with to even write back home letting them know I was alright. The first trip was a 4-day cruise, and I didn’t even take a minute to text anyone back home, from the moment I left the hotel and signed on to the end of the first cruise, that this ship job wasn’t a scam. (Some people’s main concern, since the company keep your passport the moment you sign on.)
In my defense, I had said I would only speak to them the next time I was back in home port.
But, highlighting my offense were the hundreds of messages and calls the next time I was back in port.
In those 4 days I heard from possibly eveyone I have ever cared about. The obvious one was family. They were worried sick to the point where when I actually spoke to my dad, he was only able to say “Thank God we heard from you. Now call your mom.” He didn’t want to know anymore about how my first week had been, or any stories that he usually looks forward to from me. When I called my mom, who was with my brother in Bangkok, I could only hear relief and gratitude in her voice. And from my brother, who snatched the phone from her, I felt concern in the form of anger like never before. He just yelled at me for 5 minutes, and returned the phone to my mother.
In that moment, I was washed over by a wave of something I can’t quite describe. I almost retaliated in anger, but I realised the meaning of a quote I’d seen pop up a lot recently; “People don’t listen in order to understand, they listen to reply.” At that moment, I listened. I listened to understand. And I understood that I was loved beyond words, beyond reason and beyond imagination by these people.
Of course, I also defended myself and argued a little later in the conversation, but all in good humour. What I did realise is that living so far from my family would change the equations a little bit. I may have taken for granted how much I should have contributed to all my relationships, but now the values of my ‘x’ must change and so must their ‘y’ values in order to equate the new factors.
2 of my most amazing friends in this situation showed me what it means to be able to count on someone. One friend was constantly in touch with my mum asking about me and checking in on her as well. And another was ready to call the cops and report me missing. I know what you’re thinking. And I agree. I am the most horrible and irresponsible child ever. You’re right.
Anyway, now everyone knows I am happy, healthy and safe. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying being on board, enjoying the people, the parties, the food and the comfort of being fed and cleaned up after. We have an amazing and very hard working team on board that takes very good care that we enjoy a well-balanced life. From what I hear, no other cruise line takes as good care of its employees as Carnival. And it might just be true.
On a different note of realisations, I have come to appreciate people for who they are. On board, when you live together and share a lot of your life with one another, you come to appreciate that people aren’t their job title, but so much more than it. Everyone is very capable of all sorts of roles, but many put their pride aside and choose to do things they wouldn’t back at home. You will find ex-accountants working as housekeeping staff. Lawyers working as bar tenders. The environment allows you to forget the expectations of society; and the competition that living in a community imposes on you. It allows you to take a step back, try a hand at something different and re-evaluate your bearings. It is a very accommodating surrounding. You are encouraged to take a chill pill, but we also have crew training centres that encourage you to step up your game by taking as many courses in as many fields as possible. If crew members want to try a different job, all they have to do is prepare themselves and make it known to relevant departments that they are looking for an opportunity.
Maybe I’m still spell-bound by this magical new home I have found, but I would recommend everyone that has always wanted to challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zones to take this amazing opportunity. Next week, maybe I’ll talk about some downsides of this job to allow a complete evaluation.
Until next time..! 🙂