“OMG, Your Life is So Glamorous”…And Other Comments From Folks Back Home
Recently, I read an article from Relevant Magazine called, “Instagram’s Envy Effect.” In it, the author discusses how everyone’s life looks better on social media. Why yes, I believe it most certainly does! So what does our life look like on social media? I wonder if it mirrors the reaction we often get when folks first learn about our life in foreign service. Usually, that reaction is one of wonder and amazement. On paper (and on Facebook), our lifestyle probably does look pretty cool.
But here’s the truth about our diplomatic lifestyle–it’s probably not much different than yours. We struggle to respond to many questions about our life overseas. On one hand, we really love our current lifestyle. We have seen amazing things. We have met incredible people. We are having A LOT of fun.
On the other hand, we don’t want to give the impression that living in an exotic culture is glamorous. Because it’s not. Really, it’s not. Sometimes, we feel like buying the next ticket out of here and preferably not on AirFrance because who needs the French when you’re trying to feel better about yourself? Kidding…but only partially because no one (I mean no one) wants to get routed through Charles De Gaulle.
It’s a good life lesson to be in the minority, but it’s not a fun one. Our entire understanding of how the world works has turned upside down and it probably will not be right side up again. Worse yet, we’ve learned that Google does not, in fact, know everything. It’s true! I keep relying on Google to compensate for my cultural shortcomings, but it gives me answers in Arabic and the translate feature says things like, “Bring to a boil close and extinguish the fire.” Huh? Wait, did I start a fire? Probably.
Just when you think you’ve figured out how to live in a place, it’s time to move again and learn a whole different culture. A different language. A different airline (oh please let it be Singapore Air next time). And we definitely do not look forward to saying goodbye to friends again. It’s the worst.
Both the good and bad are amplified when you’re out of your comfort zone. The highs are really high and the lows are super low. But even in the tough times (such as when the mechanic spent four months fixing our car and returned it without the crucial transmission piece that makes the car go in reverse) (Matt said it was ok as long as you didn’t take any wrong turns), I probably would not trade our experiences overseas for a quieter, simpler, easier life back home.
And that reminds me that I must mention our pride. There is a temptation to tell everyone how much we know and what we have learned. We love sharing stories, but no one likes a travel snob. We know because we’ve met many, many of those in this line of work. Sometimes though, we are the travel snobs and if we’ve ever been that to you, we are sorry.
So, you see, our lives are pretty much normal. Sometimes difficult. Rarely glamorous. Blessed, but challenged. Never boring. And no, we never did get a decent Easter photo. Maybe next year.