When you are living abroad and the going gets tough, it’s back to the drawing board. And for me that is Eat Pray Love.
Expat life can be tough sometimes, particularly in a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t look the same as the majority of the population, don’t know the traditions and are from a culture which feels like half a world away, and most likely is. Then imagine on top of that you meet someone from a completely different culture to yours and the one you are living in, who you think that you have found a stable connection with. They help you feel confident in what sometimes feels so alien to you. They provide you with someone to talk to at any time of day or night, about anything. You spend six months thinking you are getting to know them, dating, laughing, eating, drinking, dancing…living what seems like a dream. Then one day it all stops. They admit they are not who you think they are. They crush your dream of normality, and make you reconsider where you are at in this point of life.
Every break up makes you reassess your current situation, but an ‘expat breakup’ seems so much worse. You are away from the normal. You don’t have the same support network as you’re used to at home. You don’t have the comfort of your own bed. You don’t have your teddy bear. You don’t have your thinking spot. You don’t have your mum’s or your best friend’s cooking. You don’t have cuddles from your nieces and/or nephews. You feel isolated, questioning yourself, the culture you are in and then yourself again.
Your mind will flick through a constant reel of emotions, from being angry at yourself for letting someone influence your time abroad so heavily and maybe too easily, to wanting to come home, to being grateful it happened sooner than later so you can appreciate the next leg of your journey, to just feeling hurt. After all, you are only human.
But it is important to look past the time spent with this special someone, and remember why you decided to leave the comforts of your own country and experience something new. You will see why the time spent with this person who might have just turned your world into a spiral was not a waste of time, but a learning curve. You have had the opportunity to learn about a whole new culture. You have learnt more about yourself. You have stepped outside your bubble and tested yourself.
I left Australia to travel the world. To find myself. To learn about being alone and loving myself, without the reassurance of a boy (I know, I say without a boy when I am talking about a breakup. Obviously it didn’t last as long as I had foreseen or had hoped). And so, instead of feeling sorry for myself, or dwelling on my short-lived relationship, I have been thinking about where I am in my current journey.
Admittedly this was a much shorter relationship than I have had in the past, living at home in Australia, but also in full honesty, I think we both dived into it much quicker than I would have if I was at home. This might be due to the culture here, or just liking the fact that there was someone I could be close with. But nonetheless I am feeling positive about the situation, something in the past I would have never done.
I am looking at my ‘expat breakup’ as a learning curve. I am not dwelling on bad moments, I am looking at all of the positives. Something I feel like I was incapable of in the past. I have definitely grown in mental strength whilst being alone, without my usual support network back home in Australia. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my time in Japan, proud of my frame of mind about this breakup and hard time away from my family and close friends, proud that I am not letting this affect my goals, proud that I am able to see all of the positives instead of the negatives.
And from this I have decided my new word, proud.
I am proud to say that I have learnt so much from this experience. I am as strong as ever, and the world is still at my fingertips.