I can’t write this blog and pretend that life is all sunshine and rainbows. There have been some unwelcome things to figure out and deal with while in SA. It’s not that South Africa hasn’t met my expectations exactly – it’s gorgeous and overall I feel happy and blessed to be here, but just like life, the trip hasn’t been without its stumbles.
It’s led me to realize that just because you are in a new country doesn’t mean you can escape the reality of life.
It seems obvious, but have you ever built something up so much in your head, got your expectations so high, that when it came time for that event/relationship/vacation the actual reality of it left you flat out disappointed? I can tell you one thing, when I dreamed about my time abroad, it definitely didn’t include getting sick, budgeting and stressing over money, roommate disagreements, feeling homesick and not being able to drive.
So how do I deal?
Count your blessings. South Africa’s thunderstorms are insane and as I’m writing this post, the power is out. (Note to self – this deserves a post of its own!) But I’m curled up next to my husband, balancing a cup of coffee and my laptop and there’s no where else I’d rather be. Before we came to SA, my husband traveled a lot for his job, and moments like this were rare. I cherish the time we have together.
Grow where you are planted. Although you can’t ignore the not so great, chock up those experiences as learning experiences, grow from them, then keep on going!
For example, a recent argument led me to voice my opinion, loudly, and maybe not the most tactfully, but nevertheless, I found my voice and spoke up for what I wanted. In the end I got what I wanted, and it felt GOOD. Now, for those who know me, know that i’d rather hide under my bed than deal with confrontation. It typically terrifies me. But something about this trip, about quitting my job, packing up my apartment, and leaving behind my comfortable life in the USA, has made me feel BRAVE. I’ve learned that it’s okay to speak my mind and next time I’ll take a deep breath and choose my words a little more carefully.
Stay as positive as possible. Remember that you only have one chance to make each day amazing. For me, being positive means to choose to see the bright side in everything. No, this is not always easy, and I am definitely guilty of throwing myself a pity party every now and then, but being happy with what you have, focusing on the lovely things that you are getting to experience, and people you are getting to spend time with is a lot better than wallowing in your own suffering.
You can basically put a positive or negative spin on everything. So sure I could choose to see the negative in something like being away from family and friends back home. It’s tough, but I have family and friends HERE that I get to spend time with, so I focus on that. Having lots of free time means that I could get bored and lonely, but I see it as time to work on projects that I never finished, read lots of books, volunteer and get in great shape.
Life isn’t always sunshine & rainbows, but remember “the grass is greener where you water it.” – Neil Barringham