I am positively drowning in positivity, and it’s killing me. Everywhere I look, the message is the same – #bestlife, #liveyourbestlife, #bestdayever. I’m starting to think I’m dead inside or something because these positive, inspirational messages kinda make me wanna barf. For me, the word BEST is quickly becoming a dirty four letter word.
I’m not a monster; I know it’s healthy to have a positive outlook on life. I just can’t seem to muster enough strength to be my best self every moment of every friggin’ day – especially as an expat. I guess I’m just a big asshole.
I know it’s not the norm, but I think it’s good to talk about the negative aspects of expat life like: depression, loneliness, financial dependence or just plain feeling stupid AF speaking another language. Why? Cuz maybe someone who’s thinking of moving abroad, especially as a love-pat, will consider all the ramifications before they make the leap. Plus, it helps when you know people are going through the same crap you’re going through. I think that’s a good enough reason to talk about the realities of moving abroad beyond traveling, beaches and bucket lists.
Here’s a crazy idea, let’s replace BEST with the four letter word TRUE and apply it to expat life. So, here’s a bit of true from me to you.
Expat depression is real. I suffered from it for years and didn’t have the faintest idea that’s what it was. Everyone else I talked to, or blog I read, made expat life look like a dream they had turned into reality. It kept me up nights thinking about what I was doing wrong with my dream of a new life abroad.
My expat life didn’t start out 5 star but the moment I decided to pack it all in, I met the man of my dreams (he still is after 13 yrs). Tah-dah, I was now officially a love-pat. We got married two years later and then things started to unravel. His father died a month after the wedding. I was informed by our accountant that I should leave my job at the dream guy’s school because I was now family (anyone who lives in Spain knows autónomo sucks). Most other language schools paid like shite, and the money was under the table, so I took some time off from work. It was the first time since I was 14-years-old that I didn’t have a job. It felt weird, but in some ways it was freeing, so I went with it. Then, six months later my husband was diagnosed with a super NOT fun chronic illness.
I tried to be there for my husband the best I could but there was no real support system for me. All my family was back in Canada, and my friendship base in Valencia was very new and fragile. The last thing I wanted to do was sob to people I had just met. You want people to like you, not run from the very sight of you. In hindsight, I should have leaned on my friends. I got a few slaps upside the head when I told them years later what I was feeling (yes, I managed to find AND keep friends as an expat).
Sleep is good?
So, I pretty much buried my feelings, slapped a smile on my face (smirk really) and got on with life. It wasn’t until after years of not sleeping for more than three hours that I realized something ain’t right here.
I did the therapy thing, which started the ball rolling. Business coaching came next (I can’t believe I actually did that) and it helped too. Then, the desire to start waking up in the morning with an actual purpose set in and shook the rest of the dust off.
I fell back in love with writing (& swearing) and My Expatations was born. Now, in a minute (hilarious Welsh saying), I’m launching my copywriting/content writing services and life is moving away from the dark side.
I’m sure you just asked yourself, “Why did I just read all that negative shite when this biatch is feeling better now?” Well, like I said, I’m a big asshole. Also, I did it to demonstrate that expat life is just life. My story isn’t special, or original, but it’s true.
Trust me, the sooner people start talking about the dirty aspects of life abroad, instead of all this clean living best life bullshit, those Instagram stories are gonna start looking a lot different.
My Expatations: Move abroad and live relatively happily ever after.
Reality: Check me out in The Expat Experience podcast for belly laughs, swears……..and more TRUE.