So my life has gone through… changes. Where am I now, almost a year ago since the last post?
- Got a new job nine months ago! At a French company! In French! So my French speaking abilities have gone from “poor” to “workable but still shameful”. ;p Seriously though it is going very well. Another new intense challenge but worth it.
- Everyone in my family ever is getting married. Which is awesome. And that means trips back to the US to see them. We have another this coming October!
- I am in the process of finalizing the buying of an apartment. *fingers crossed*.
Honestly, with how stressful and insecure things were for us for so long in France (whether I shared them on the internetz or not) I was not sure I would ever find this stability again. And WHAM now after a lot of hard work I am on stable ground. *touch wood – as they say here*
And I am happy. Obviously we are also planning on sticking around for the long run.
Next Steps – Refinding Yourself
When you move to a foreign country (or anywhere) to find yourself, often you find yourself… in respect to your native country.
Self Questioning as an Expat
For at least the first two to three years you have one line of questioning…
How does this new experience compare to my previous in your old country? And how should you react?
You are not finding yourself, but finding who you are as an expat from your native country and who you should be in your new country. You become a walking stereotype and diplomat.
Then you either go home, move on to a new country or stay.
Moving on to the root question, “Who are you?”
if you stay, it is at this point (which you will reach at least by the 3 year mark as we all know Love Only Lasts 3 Years), where you start to sift through all the noise, stereotypes and confusion to figure out who YOU are and not who your country is (the new or native).
I am there now.
I love my life, my friends, my city and still appreciate my roots. But I have taken on too much and I also have taken on too much the persona of an ‘Expat’. Which was useful and necessary for the original transition but now is old and tired.
While being a transplant will ALWAYS affect me. I do not want that to be me. When I am introduced I do not want to be, ‘Sheila the American who lives in Paris’.
I want to be ‘Sheila the mobile application designer’ or ‘Dancer’ or ‘Poet’ or ‘Lover of fine cheeses’ or ‘Life Long Learner’. Or whatever I find to be my true focus. It could even be ‘Sheila the woman that loves Paris’
It is not a shedding of my national identity because I am ashamed, it is just not hiding behind it.
Plus it’s too easy
To say… I reason like this because I am American. Yes, I am sure that is true to an extent.
But why? Not all Americans think the same. So why in particular do I reason like this?
Because I am me.
But who am I?
And that is nothing an astonishing view of the Eiffel Tower or a buttery croissant can tell you. Unless you find time to self reflect while enjoying them.
Author’s Note: It may seem contradictory to post this sort of post on an Expat Blog. And you are probably right.