I have been asked a lot how my time is over here in Europe. Sometimes I’m not even asked, but told: “You are living the dream!”, “Looks like you’re having a blast!”.
Sure, there are good parts. Great parts, even! But the truth is that it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows.
Why do we make our lives seem perfect over social media?
Far too often, I feel like I scroll through Instagram and Facebook to see people doing amazing things – legendary parties, crushing work, always feeling…perfect.
But is that all true? Well we know it’s not, but it’s still hard to know for sure.
I even find myself wanting to post only the good stuff in my own social media posts because I feel like if I post something unhappy or negative, then I’ll bring down the mood of anyone following me.
But the truth is that life isn’t only “the good stuff”! And that’s okay.
I wanted to write this post to share the truth about how it really feels to move across the pond to a foreign country, in an effort to share a bit more than just the good stuff.
I don’t speak for everyone who ever uprooted what they know to try something different, new, or exciting. But I do think that I am not alone.
Here’s the truth:
Think about it. You move to another country where you (al)most certainly do not know the language. All of your friends whom you confided in, loved, and saw every day are now halfway across the world (not to mention six hours behind you!). So now you have to make all new friends, and on top of that, make them with a language barrier laughing in your face.
But separation from friends was only one piece of the lonely puzzle. The second? Boredom.
Yes I am playing hockey here and yes I have a team supporting me, but that only lasts me a couple hours a day. What about the other 22? They can’t all be used up sleeping (right??).
After whizzing through all of the new shows on the German Netflix, I stopped to realize that I didn’t really feel I had a purpose anymore.
Since I first stepped foot into Kindergarten, I was trained to study. I was trained to be in a school atmosphere where I was challenged. I was trained to build challenging hobbies around that challenging school atmosphere – sports, chess club, bowling leagues.
I was trained to keep busy. And for 16 years, I did just that.
But now I was on my own. My parents weren’t there to push me into art classes or summer book-writing summits anymore. My coaches weren’t there to watch over my shoulder as I did my workouts. And my boss wasn’t calling me into weekly progress meetings, keeping me on schedule.
I was alone.
You never truly feel alone until you begin to realize that all of the responsibility for making your own happiness falls on your very own shoulders.
Have you ever stopped to think about that? Who keeps you busy? Keeps you on track? Motivated? Happy?
If your answers are mainly people that aren’t yourself, you might have some self-reflecting to do. Many are perfectly content with relying on others that way. But the rest of you might not be so quick to concede. It’s not really a road we want to go down – it’s windy, dark, and scary. But only when you are forced to go down that path alone.
I say take the leap.
I learned that when I hit this vat of loneliness/boredom/inertia, it was up to me to change that. It was up to me to put my car in drive and go.
So finally I said “Well what the hell am I gonna do about this?” And dangnabbit, I tried doing something!
Studying German, decorating the house, painting, grocery shopping, cooking new recipes, new exercise routines. Anything I thought I would remotely enjoy or that would challenge me in any way.
It didn’t all go as planned. In fact, I think I tried doing so many things that I wasn’t able to commit myself to any of them. But I lived and I learned.
I learned that it takes a lot of “oompf” to get yourself going when you feel stuck. I learned I had so many support systems around me throughout my entire life without realizing it. I learned you should take on challenges little by little in order to stay truly committed to them.
And I also learned that it’s not easy (not even close!) determining what your purpose is in life – what makes you jump out of bed in the morning, what makes time fly by, puts a smile on your face, challenges you.
But the biggest lesson I learned is that not knowing that purpose is perfectly okay. It’s the journey to find it that matters.