Two Weeks Later

It has been two weeks since I promised myself I would stop working and stressing about work all the time and it has been far easier than I thought. I see the situation at work for what it is now, a poorly planned and underbudgeted effort that, if the circumstances don't change, stands a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding. There are people who continue to kill themselves day, night and weekend but they don't make a dent. But that is their choice.

When I pulled my head out of the sands of work it had been buried in and looked around, it became clear that the challenges don't end there. It has seemed relatively easy for me to adjust to life here. Or so I thought.

By choice I have cut back on work and I have no doubt that is a great thing. As it also happens, M. will be out of town part of the next two weekends with work. Unexpectedly, I was feeling panicked about this. After having spent the last couple of years before I met M. happily alone, suddenly being alone seems lonely again.

The truth is I have been hiding in the familiar comfort of M. and my work since I have been here. Take those two things away and I am afraid I'm not sure what else I have.

I was starting to sense this over the last few weeks. Now that I have been making some time for myself, I recognized that I am not as decisive and confident in my personal life as I used to be. I feel hemmed in by the lack of social options. I am too dependent on M. and his social network. Somehow I have changed from who I was when I got here, an assertive, well-adjusted person, to something less than that and I didn't even see it happening.

I am giving some thought to what I need to do to get that confidence back. For those that have been in this situation in their lives, what have you done? I know a few things I want to continue, like jogging and studying German. There are a few things I want to start to do, like making our apartment more of a home than a weekend crash pad so I have a cozy safe haven. Then there are some things that seem more elusive, like finding that sense of belonging, having a social network of my own and more outlets for fun. I have moved a lot in my life and I already know it always takes a couple of years before these last things fall into place.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas (or former posts) to share while I am fumbling around for a new direction, send them my way. Now the real challenge begins...

Posted from Basel


J said...

wow, you've just written a good part of a post I've already started for tomorrow!

Michelle said...

Hmm... can't wait to see what you write. Seems to be a common challenge and one that is not easily solved.

christina said...

Hi Michelle - I wrote a post about this last year on our anniversary and linked to it in my post from Friday. It's somtimes really hard to find those parts of yourself that you've lost. Blogging has been helping me do that lately and now I wish I had started years earlier.

GC PHILO said...

I gave up working full-time when I became an expat. It's tough trying to juggle going out every other night and not being able to understand what the bartender is talking to you about in that strange new language while juggling a career.... You need to get in touch with other expats and it'll all fit together. They'll show you the ropes and know what your going through no matter where you move to!

Expat Traveler said...

I think for me the hardest thing is finding a quality of network of friends to hang around. I think it's nice to know how to get along on your own from time to time and at times it can feel great.

Hope you have fun alone and get out and feel more secure or grounded.

But I'd agree with Christina that blogs have really given me something I needed.

And my pics - thanks for the compliments. Just trying to be good and enjoying it at the same time. :)

J said...

Sorry, I was a day off. It'll be posted on 21 June.

christina said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, Michelle! We would love to go back now but there are a number of things that would make it really difficult
1) My husband's credentials wouldn't be recognized and he has no Canadian experience. It would be incredibly difficult for him to get a job like the one he has now. He'd like to move but is terrified of giving up the standard of living and financial security we have now.
2)I've been out of the work force for a long time and if I did find a job, I doubt I could support a family of 4 considering the cost of living in Vancouver. We're both over 40 and would be starting from scratch with two kids to worry about as well.
3) Moving itself would be incredibly expensive
4) Immigration is complicated and time consuming.

It pays to think about all this stuff now while you're young instead of leaving it too long like we did.

lobstah said...

Yes, I sense a Ron-a-roll trip in our future!

KJ said...

Personally I say don't panic. (It seemed to help in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!)

You have a good network of friends - you really do. They are just a little unorthodox due to your move. You don't need to find a new group or anything even other than M's friends - simply find a place in his group - Get to know those within the group that you are casual with by chatting it up without M involved.

Just breathe kiddo. Relax for a moment - you are in a beautiful country and you are talented and smart and beautiful yourself! It is going to be okay - just breathe, get your feet under yourself and BE YOURSElF.

Mike B said...

I came to Germany for the job, but gave up the job and stayed for the relationship. I'm sure the relationship was a good choice, but it has meant taking up other pursuits like baking bread, playing golf, eating too much, and occasionally blogging about it all.

I share my Partnerin's circle of friends here in Germany, but have found my own little circle through things like German class (the Partnerin tolerates the fact that I am hanging out with twenty-something Au Pairs too many times a week) and my Chinese class. In other words, I started exploring a lot of other interests to fill the time.

Still it is difficult to resist the pull of "the Homeland" (I really hate that term). The Partnerin won't lose me to a Russian Au Pair, but she may very well lose me to New York City.

I still enjoy Europe nearly six years into this round, but I do wonder if I need to return to a career for some other sense of fulfillment. I might miss the money, but I don't miss the bullsh*t.

In other words, I took Work-Life balance to the other extreme, and I am not sure I am fully enjoying it despite the fact that everyone tells me that it seems to agree with me ... it hasn't been a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.