When the newness and excitement of an overseas move wears off and you begin to settle in, there is a strange feeling that may overcome you, or maybe its just me. It's a little uncomfortable, kind of awkward and I've been trying to figure out how to put it into words. Trying to figure out how to explain to my friends and family what it's like to live in a foreign country. Because I should be on cloud nine everyday, right? And most of the time I am, but what are these feelings of being uncomfortable and awkward actually affecting in me? Well....
And there it is. Living your life as an expat can truly shake your confidence in ways that you never thought possible. Living in America for 29 years, no matter what city, I have always felt confident in my daily decisions, like where I grocery shop, what lane I need to be in while driving, how to communicate with people, how to dress, how to buy movie tickets, HOW TO CROSS THE STREET, etc, etc. Having never lived as an expat, I've never thought twice about how to do daily activities and have felt confident in my decisions. I have had almost total confidence in myself.
To further dive into this I need to give you some examples of just how my confidence has been tested. For instance, even a simple text message to a British friend was a little intimidating at first....I'm thinking, will they really understand what I am saying? Or even when speaking in person, some things get lost in translation (English vs. English) and it can be awkward when the conversation suddenly becomes quiet. It makes you wonder what you said wrong. I am so thankful that I live in a country with friendly people or my confidence would be completely crushed because of the silly things I say. Thank you England!!
Driving, good gracious. I miss driving and feeling safe and happy and carefree! I actually did make myself roll down the windows on a sunny day a few days ago, with the music blaring, and just pretend I was back at home, driving my easy to drive, pretty car. It was a boost for my soul for sure. Driving is something that has always been so easy and enjoyable for me. Now, I feel like I am 15 and haven't the slightest clue what I am doing. It feels so foreign. It can be a total confidence shaker to revert back to the beginning days of your driving career after you have already mastered it in another setting.
Shopping in general has been interesting because I never know what I am supposed to be doing at checkout. Some places make you bag your own groceries and some don't, and I just always feel awkward when asking. And then comes paying. The chip and pin cards are new for us and I usually manage to mess up the transaction. Or if I am counting out my British coins, it takes me forever. I feel like a 7 year old counting out his pennies at the ice cream shop!
Other confidence shakers include: Figuring out the trash schedule and what type of trash goes in each bin, looking right when crossing the road (oh I need a whole post on this), understanding road signs, and my least favorite...learning how to cook again with temperatures in Celsius and measurements in ml and g. Ugh.
So how do I try and hold on to my confidence? Well it's really a mixture of things. I try and tell myself these things on the regular...
1. Don't be so hard on yourself.
You just moved to a different country. Of course you are going to have some setbacks. I think most people, well at least me, move to a different country expecting this fairytale. And it absolutely is in some ways! So when you start feeling your confidence slip, you think it must be you being a baby. But it's not. There is a major amount of adjusting to do. It takes time. Allow yourself the time. And laugh!!
2. Keep trying.
There will be setbacks upon setbacks in regaining your confidence. But guess what, tomorrow is a new day and you can try again. Take your confidence shakers and learn from them. I hate crossing the road here, but guess what, I gotta keep trying. And one day, I will look in the right direction for oncoming traffic!! I hope you have a most hilarious picture in your mind right now of me trying to cross the road and not looking in the right direction! I've literally been pulled back by a British friend, like I was a child and she was my mom telling me not to walk into the street!
3. Embrace the experience.
My most favorite of all. Embrace this experience. Open your heart and see the positivity in your situation. There are so many people who would give up everything to be in your shoes. This is an incredible learning experience and one that should be cherished. One that you may never have the opportunity to experience again! So get out there, make a fool of yourself and embrace it :)
Everyday I keep gaining more confidence and learn how to do better. It's always a work in progress and I am learning to let go and just live in the moment!
|Van and I at a super swanky Monaco bar......totally out of place :)|
What has shaken your confidence? What helps build your confidence?
Happy Friday folks!!