A push and a pull

By Craig Nudelman

At the end of March, my family and I will be moving to the great unknown land of Australia (at least, it’s unknown to me!). 

We are emigrating to Sydney. Gabi got an amazing job opportunity that we couldn’t turn down. I get mixed reactions when I tell people the news. Some are happy for me and my family, whereas others have given less favourable remarks and unsolicited words of ‘wisdom’. We understand there are cons to moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world, particularly one which is far removed from everywhere else (it isn’t called the antipodes for nothing!) We know we won’t have the help and support we have here. But it will give us incredible opportunities for self-growth and security. 

We’ve come across many people who leave the country to escape the negatives like loadshedding, broken government systems, and security. But I can proudly say that the reasons we’re leaving are not fatalistic. We’re moving towards something positive for all four of us. 

It will be a challenge. I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s controversial self-help book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and it is wonderful. Manson’s mantra of not giving a f*ck, as well as his personal and often light-hearted anecdotes, has given me an opportunity to think about this move and how I can navigate Sydney in the best way possible. Because I’m listening to the audiobook, I’ll have to paraphrase what he says and my interpretation of his ‘teachings’. Essentially, he says that individuals aren’t that amazing or incredibly gifted. If we believe that, we become entitled and do not grow and learn. Instead, we must keep on reminding ourselves of what is important in life. Things like money, property, and beauty are nice, but they aren’t important. The values that we should take note of, like integrity, family, and curiosity, will help us succeed in life. So, when people speak about the things I’ll lose when I leave, such as our domestic help, the beautiful view from our flat, and the low cost of living a high-quality lifestyle, I take it with a pinch of salt. 

I think key to finding success, personally and professionally, is just going with the flow. Although this may seem to be a counterintuitive way to think since it’s contrary to contemporary hustle culture, we often are most successful when we aren’t actively pursuing our dreams and goals. I often say that ‘everything will be fine’. And it’s worked out for me so far. When I have been unemployed, I have actively pursued trying to find a job. But if nothing is going right, you just must wait and see what happens. To be on the lookout constantly can be destructive for your mental health. Getting rejected is not fun. And so, my mantra in preparation for Sydney is that everything will be fine. 

Psychologists have noted that negative self-talk is damaging, and these thoughts that keep creeping in can get stuck in our heads. This leads to crippling anxiety and self-judgement. Instead, focusing on positive thoughts change your mindset and can assist you in staying the course. Fretting about what you can’t actively control is self-destructive. We must be able to control our feelings. By focusing on the positives, our move will be less scary and more adventurous. 

I’m looking forward to the adventure of being in a big city. I’ve already joined a choir (I’ll be singing with hundreds of other choristers in Mahler’s epic 8th Symphony) and I will proactively join a Jewish communal organisation. I’ve been applying for jobs, which will become easier when I arrive in Australia, and so I haven’t been letting the lack of response from potential employers get to me. Everything will be fine.

All this positivity aside, our move means I am leaving many things that have shaped my life and are important to me. I will sorely miss my family and friends, and it will hopefully not be too difficult to make new friends in the ‘Lucky Country’. The sense of community will also be difficult to leave. I have volunteered and worked in the Jewish community in Cape Town for the better part of a decade. As a professional I’ve been at Herzlia and the Cape SAJBD; and worked as a tour guide, showing people the amazing Jewish history of this beautiful city. My hope for the community is that it nurtures its youth and ensures that they stay connected to their Judaism. I look forward to seeing how Vision 2040 pans out, as well as the Move Down to Cape Town campaign the Board is currently running. 

The pull factor is way more exciting than the push! The fact that Gabi has a job in a university which is more stable than the current one is a bonus. It’s also an opportunity for me to grow professionally in a different environment (perhaps not being a Jewish professional!). The kids will have a safer time — they’ll be able to walk to school, ride their bikes and have a more diverse group of friends. I’m excited to see their trajectory. But nothing is permanent in this globalised world in which we live — who knows where we’ll be in the next five years? Change is inevitable and, whatever happens, everything will be fine.

Craig is a writer, Jewish professional, and tour guide extraordinaire. His deep bass voice has graced stages, synagogues and studios. He is an obedient husband, father to two spectacular daughters, and is known for dad jokes and trivia. 

• Published in the March 2023 Digital Edition – Click here to start reading.

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