Recently I read a blog entry that summed up the general malaise that I was feeling toward Spain and life: How to Fight Expat Depression: Just Remember You’re Not Alone from Surviving in Italy. Yes, yes, yes, I found myself nodding along. Often, it can seem like I’m not entitled to feel sad or depressed–you’re living abroad, silly! Isn’t this your dream? Which, in turn, makes me feel even guiltier about feeling down. But the truth is that things aren’t always that easy, and situations are never completely perfect. As the author points out,
One minute life is a paradise and you find yourself drinking cheap wine in a vineyard, tasting olive oil in an olive grove, laughing to yourself as old men wave to you in the street. Then five minutes later your world is full of confusion, humiliation…
Yep. that sums it up. The blogger may live in Italy, but this situation applies here, too.
BAM. Well, I didn’t expect that.
I’m afraid I haven’t been the happiest of campers lately. I scribbled, deleted, and revived this entry. Did I really want to share it? Finally, I decided that I did, because living abroad isn’t an endless merry-go-round of sunshine and wine festivals.
Truth be told, I wasn’t excited about starting yet another school year here. I am still–STILL–teaching English. The gig isn’t a bad one, it’s just not what I want to do. In addition, I was reeling from an unfortunate series of events that left me more disillusioned than ever with Spain.
The bitterness over the shall-not-be-named situation brought up a lot of disheartening questions. Is it worth it to stay? Where would I go? And, make that we—where would WE go? Andres and I are in this together, and his job is here. So, for the time being, I’m back to the drawing board. (And it quite literally is a chalk board, that one. In a high school. And it comes with Spanish students.)
And so, for the past few weeks I’ve been feeling extremely stuck. In a broad sense, I’ve been angry at Spain. Frustrated from living from year to year. Fed up with the never-ending paperwork. Irked at the lawyer who advised me that the best way to stay was to become a domestic servant. Infuriated when co-workers suggest, yet again, “Why don’t you get a Spanish boyfriend?” Dismayed when a potential employer responds, “Your work is great, but it’s not worth the hassle of hiring you.”
Peeved at Neighbor #1, a baby who cries incessantly. Livid with Neighbor #2, who yelled at ME when SHE left her keys in the door. Irked at the doorman, who slows his speech down as if explaining the basics to a feeble-minded child. Tired of the school bathroom, which is always missing toilet paper, soap, paper towels, or all three. Ticked at the waiters who slide a dish of olives to everyone except for us. Exhausted by staying up all night fretting over missed opportunities and dead ends. Wondering, constantly, “Isn’t there something better than this?”
As I mentioned in my last post, there are some things about Spain that I won’t ever be able to reconcile. But, more than ever, my life is here. It’s with Andres, and for now Madrid is home.
With some distance, all this frustration seems petty. There are going to be annoyances anywhere you live. PEOPLE are annoying, above all. (Followed closely by city dogs.) On the bright side, I have to admit how miraculous it is that Andres and I–both foreigners–have jobs in Spain at a time when unemployment is rampant. The world isn’t going to end if I (sigh) still haven’t started a career by age 28. Having a job with an income (and more importantly, a year-long visa) works for now, for the in-between.
And now the holidays are upon us, which doesn’t make expat depression any easier. Do you have any tips for when you’re abroad and feeling blue?
I barely took any pictures in Madrid during the last few months, but here are some shots of Andres and I playing a laser board game. Back story: Andres’ lab was preparing for some workshops and he had to learn this new game. So it wasn’t his first choice, per se. But it made for some silly photos to temper the serious topic.
This is what our weekends look like. Yes, we’re nerds.