It’s surreal when a dream becomes a reality. And not in a corny, awestruck, just met Justin Bieber kind of way. Surreal in the sense that when I dreamt about returning to Israel – the friends, the family, the steaming shawarma after a night out, I was living in a fantasy; now I’m confronted with reality. I fantasized for so long about returning that I feared it might not live up to my expectations. It’s my nature to live in a bit of a grass is always greener mindset. All my problems in America are a result of me not being in Israel. And all my problems in Israel are a result of my not being in America. So when I stepped off the bright, obnoxiously purple budget airplane, it was with a definite sense of trepidation.
But my fears were unfounded. Not to say that the Israel I found is my fantasy Israel; I just now know how much better prepared I am for this endeavor than I was when I first arrived, white eyed and naive, Zionistic and excited, 4 years ago. Whether it’s nightmares at the visa office, or long, sweaty walks between buses— cars streaking by as I trod along, burdened by the backpack from which I now live—I can roll with the punches better.
Israel is exciting. It’s new, it’s fresh. It’s unknown. I laugh sometimes at the contradiction between what I’m actually doing and what people around me must think. Either they think what I would likely think if someone told me they were a CEO at 22, or they think I’m caught up in some MLM scheme, about to lose everything to “bitcoin.” In reality: I google. I google “how to find a lawyer in Israel,” “what is a segregated account,” “what is an accredited investor.” I read one article and then read another just so I can understand the first. It’s certainly a lot less glamorous than it sounds. But I also know that in this industry, I’m not behind anyone. I’m at the forefront of this technology and even the experts have limited knowledge. All I can do is learn: read, listen, ask questions. And that, that I can do.
I work in an office in the diamond exchange near Tel Aviv—half the time I work on details of the startup, and the other half assisting with whatever I can help with. Everyday I learn. Sometimes, when I catch my breath, I compare my life now to my life at college. Instead of beakers and lab coats, I’ve handled more diamonds in the past week than in my entire life combined. I study blockchain technology, market patterns, and hedge fund structures in place of DNA replication, NaOH dilutions, and derivatives. Instead of entropy and force, metabolism and cancer, I learn how diamonds are both a commodity and a luxury item, what increases and decreases their value, and the history of the industry. I didn’t even realize how much there is to know about diamonds.
There are so many unknowns in my life—it’s excellent practice for me: to live in the moment, to live with the uncertainty, to not worry about the future. I miss my friends and Western—the community there, late nights walking through the fog laden trees of the arboretum, quiet unlike any where n Israel. But I’m trying to focus more on what I have now, not what I left behind. And I know that those friendships I left behind aren’t over.
So I’m taking everyday as an adventure—the exciting, the boring, the stressful, and the enlightening.