IN A CROWD, BUT I STILL FEEL ALONE
Today is November 4th. Yes, it is a massive US election-day, and although following the news, I have found time to blog a post. A reflective piece I think, on some of the challenges, I am in the process of overcoming. She says ...
I have been here since mid-late August and the adrenaline is slowly evaporating. SAD is kicking in, yep that's Seasonal Affective Disorder for those that are not familiar. Note to self, next expat location, sunshine 365 days a year! Jokes aside, I love the autumn in Almaty. It is absolutely beautiful, but I am definitely feeling the effect of the darkness. Nothing too dissimilar from the UK, and I am still not amazingly great at dealing with it. I exercise, go for walks and get outside as much as possible but hey, when you work all day, that can be pretty tricky. Anyways let's get to the point of this post! So, my title says it all really, ‘In a crowd but I still feel alone’.
I am not the popular type of girl, I am probably more your girl next door. The one you say hello to because they smile and are friendly. It isn't a negative for those that are reading, it's just what it is. I don't get hung up about it, as I actually don't want to be the popular girl. I experienced it for one summer when I was around 18 years old, and I couldn't cope. I value alone time as much as being social. However, I value intimacy in friendships over large social crowds. I can navigate these crowds, but I draw energy from my intimate relationships. So, in my current situation where there are so many people, I am finding it difficult to navigate. Now don't get me wrong, if you know me, I have extrovert traits, but I also find it taxing and therefore need the balance.
The part of 'expating' that I am struggling with at the moment is intimate relationships and feeling alone. On top of that, I feel my insecurities have flared up! Annoying... Back home, most of my friends have been my friends for a really long time. They love who I am and take the rough with the smooth and vice versa. I don't have to be self-conscious that I talk too much, or say the wrong things or am too opinionated. My friends know it and love me anyway. They also put me in check when required! We have shared highs and lows, disagreements, and laughter. We have done the miles and worn the t-shirts'. We do not see each other all the time but that doesn't matter. Somehow we are intimately connected. Although I still very much have these friends, we are hours apart due to the time difference, as well as miles. Moving here naturally you have to make new friends and build new foundations. ‘Expating’ feels like a faster pace of life, which in many ways is great, people are always doing stuff. But you have to balance working with people, while also making friends with colleagues. The point I am getting at is that sometimes navigating this for me, is challenging.
I have concluded that it could be a couple of things. Firstly I am a solo parent, so I am navigating the family scene, as well as being a single person. I want to go out, have a cocktail, and mingle with other single people, while also having a great day at the park with all the families. I feel like in 'expating' a lot of socialising happens spontaneously after events, such as weekly football or a random mid-week meal and when you are the only parent, childcare responsibility takes a front seat. This is not in any way a bad thing, I love the little routine me and my son have. It's a blast, but it does mean that it feels a little more challenging trying to make a range of friends and navigate these two different social scenes. This is something that I am sure will figure itself out, along with a proactive attitude. However, in the spirit of recording this journey and being transparent on the highs and lows, this one has got me on a little downer. For those that may be considering the big move as a solo parent, don't be put off. It really is amazing in so many ways, but mentally prepare for your own little challenges. This is currently mine.
Making loads of friends at work suits some people. It is great to work with a few people that you manage to build great friendships with, that have depth but when it is a 'collective', for me it can feel like lots of surface relationships. I know it takes time, these things can not be rushed! I guess if you come as a couple you have depth in your partnership, so for you that may not be an issue immediately. Then there is also the issue of cliques. People seem to come with other people. What if you don't like other people? How do you navigate around that? I guess what I am throwing out, are just some of the challenges that you may or may not face. I always knew this would be my challenge, building intimate friendships with depth, given my personal time constraints and responsibilities and although I knew it, it feels a little more emotionally challenging. In particular, when you are in the middle of a pandemic and maybe can't go home for some time, or have anyone visit you. I guess for some of you, the more experienced expats reading this, you may be thinking, get used to it. I have heard 'expating' is very transient. Therefore this may be something I will have to just become accustomed to and grow through the process. Well, that is all my thoughts for now. I will write about moving during a pandemic soon, I promise. I am slowly getting into an organised routine.
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