Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The expat life - all glamour?

Several friends from home have said things to me about my life as an expat that really got me thinking. I have heard things like, based on this blog and my Facebook/Instagram photos, my life sounds so glamorous, "just like in a movie" and perfect. (Is there such thing as a perfect life? I doubt it...) Well, after some thinking I have to say: I disagree. 

There is a somewhat glamorous side to being an expat, I agree. You'll get to live in a new city, maybe even in a big house, which is always exciting. We had the chance to travel extensively around the US, something I will always be very thankful for. And we have met great people from all over the world. All VERY positive experiences that I would never want to miss.

BUT there is also a different side to it. One that you would probably not find in my photos because one tends to capture positive memories rather than negative. The feeling of isolation. Being homesick. Living in a place that you would rather not live in if you could choose. Dealing with things like scorpions in your house. The need for pest control around your house and the question whether it is safe for your children to do that. Tornadoes. The weather radio going off four times in one hour and your children screaming like crazy whenever they hear it. No family to help you when you are sick. Never getting a break.

I'm not saying that expat life makes me unhappy, but I think it's important to talk about both sides, the positive and the negative because as with everything in life there are two sides to it! I also believe that you need both and probably the negative moments in expat life even more, in order to grow and appreciate the good one's.

I'll leave you with a quote, which I have read on one of my favorite blogs - A Cup of Jo - the other day. I couldn't agree more.

"I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're now seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is."
—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life

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