Sometimes I Fake It
I’m sure you’ve faked something at one time or another. We do it to protect ourselves. No one wants to be made fun of or seem vulnerable. So we cover things up or pretend we’re someone we’re not to hide the insecurities. We’ve all been there.
Sometimes I fake it too.
Sometimes I even convince myself. Living in Europe has been a dream of mine for half my life. So I guess I don’t want people to know it’s tough. I don’t want myself to know it’s tough.
Most days I’m doing good here in Freiburg. I go to my German class in the morning, I write and do other blog-related work in the afternoon. Andy and I go for a walk if the weather is nice when he gets home from work, we make dinner, and then we both work on our blogs. I’m slowly getting used to living in Germany, and I’m very slowly starting to meet people and make friends.
But then something ridiculous happens, like looking for a backpack and realizing I can’t find what I want here. But if they had an REI store, I know I’d find something. This spirals in my head as “I hate being here” which is over dramatic, but that’s just how it happens.
Or I see on Facebook that my friends back home are getting ready to watch the first UGA football game of the season, or a friend is about to give birth to her twins.
I feel like their lives are moving on while mine is staying the same. Which I know isn’t true. But because I can’t talk to them as often, and I certainly can’t see them as often, I miss things and I don’t hear about what’s going on in their day-to-day lives.
So I pretend I’m completely fine here. I pretend it’s great living in another country. I’m kind of stuck in the middle right now. Not quite adjusted to my new home, still miss my old home, but I know I don’t really want to live there. I want a worlds collide kind of compromise that doesn’t exist. Or maybe just teleportation.
I’d love to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a fine question to ask a kid, but when you’re an adult who doesn’t want to be defined by a career, the question becomes a little more broad and morphs into, “what do I want to do with my life?”
There are a lot of things I love about blogging. I love that it brought me to my husband Andy, I love the friends I’ve made, I love sharing my experiences and encouraging others to travel. But sometimes there’s too much noise. I’ve realized I can’t hear myself think over all that noise. I can’t focus on nurturing any other ideas or projects because I’m so consumed with this.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t cut out the German class. And I need friends in order to feel more comfortable living here, so I need to make space in my life for them. I need some time to relax so I can continue adjusting.
I need some quiet so I can work on finding ways to make it a little less tough. So I can stop faking it.
I’m going to take a little break from blogging. My sites are really important to me, and so is every single one of you who reads, I appreciate all of you. I still can’t believe just how many of you do read my blog! But I’m sure you can understand, and hopefully this will just be for a week or two. I love doing this too much to give it up. If you haven’t subscribed, now might be a good time so you’ll know when I’m back.
I still have lots to write about Turkey, Carcassonne, Andorra, Barcelona, and Portugal. I’m also planning a review of Mexican restaurants in Freiburg. But for now, if you’re looking for something to read, here are some of my most popular and some of my favorite posts, maybe you’ve missed some:
- My Twitter Love Story
- How Much I Spent in Southeast Asia in Two Months
- Christmas in Antarctica
- Ode to My Passport
- A Love Letter to Prague
- Thoughts on One Year of Unemployment
- What I Learned From My Round the World Trip
- My Biggest Travel Fear
If you haven’t checked out my new site Travel Made Simple, here are a few posts from there as well:
- What If You Don’t Speak the Language?
- How to Travel Carry-On Only
- Is Your Layover Long Enough?
- Carry-on luggage size chart with 150+ airlines around the world
September 27, 2012 @ 9:26 AM
I know what it’s like to feel as though the whole world is passing you by. With my disability and not being able to work because of it, I don’t get out much and don’t often get to meet people in person. That means that I often feel that I’m missing out somehow even though I do have some quality of life, and a quality of life better than many people who suffer from Fibromyalgia. Personally I find that having a spiritual practice, in my case Buddhism and Buddhist meditation helps relieve this quite a bit.
There is a book I read many years ago that may be helpful for you. It’s called What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson. It’s book full of different peoples’ stories about how they found what they wanted to do with their lives. It’s a big read but it is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. Here is the Amazon link for it: http://www.amazon.com/What-Should-Do-My-Life/dp/0345485920/ref=bxgy_cc_b_text_a .
I wish you well for your break and I hope to see you online again soon:)
September 28, 2012 @ 9:55 PM
Thanks Matthew! I’m so glad you’ve found something that helps you so much. Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll check it out. Things just got overwhelming, and too many things hit at once. Hopefully this will just be a short break, I’d love to be blogging again in another week or 2 because I really do enjoy it.
September 27, 2012 @ 10:30 AM
Hang on in there, Ali! And all the best with your break from blogging – I hope it does you some good.
September 28, 2012 @ 9:56 PM
Thanks Simon! Culture shock is a bitch sometimes!
September 27, 2012 @ 12:04 PM
Don’t be gone long. I love getting emails with new posts in them!
September 28, 2012 @ 9:58 PM
Aw, thank you Jan! Don’t worry, I won’t be gone too long. Hopefully a week or two is all I need to clear my head.
September 27, 2012 @ 1:59 PM
I can definitely relate, Ali. I’ve been on three back-to-back press trips, all of which I loved, but the social media obligations nearly killed me and have literally destroyed my creative writing process. I, too, feel the need to step back, reassess, and figure out what needs to be eliminated. You have to do what’s best for you, but I hope you decide to keep writing in some form. Sending you a big hug for support.
September 28, 2012 @ 10:01 PM
Thanks Barbara, I really appreciate it! Some of the blog-related stuff can get overwhelming sometimes, and I don’t want to forget I started this because I love to travel, write, and share my pictures and stories. The speed of some press trips can be too much. I hope you’re getting in some quality relaxation time right now! And don’t worry, I’ll be back to my blog soon, I’m really hoping just a week or two.
September 27, 2012 @ 4:55 PM
Hang in there! I am reading an awesome book called Take The Stairs – it’s about shifting your focus and prioritizing to achieve more of your goals (yes, that means we have to actually commit to those). I really like it – and he has a good web site. Check it out: http://www.roryvaden.com/
September 28, 2012 @ 10:02 PM
Thanks Allison! I’ll check out the book, it sounds like a good one. Say hi to everyone for me!
September 27, 2012 @ 7:18 PM
I think this is completely normal, and really a lot of it probably stems from your becoming an expat. Think about it. You now have all these extra commitments (German class, for example) and adjusting to a completely new city and environment…on top of all your regular activities. Most people just don’t move an ocean away from the place they are familiar with. It’s great you’re listening to your need to take a break =)
September 28, 2012 @ 10:03 PM
Thanks Andrea! It is a lot, and I just didn’t realize how much I was piling on until this week. I definitely need a break, should be good for me. I already feel good knowing I have time to do just about anything.
September 27, 2012 @ 8:37 PM
I still haven’t completely figured out what I am going to do with my life either 🙂
I remember being in Phi Phi for my 3rd month thinking how much I loved the place, yet hated it at the same time. Now, places like Phi Phi are all I think about since returning to the States last year.
Best wishes Ali
September 28, 2012 @ 10:08 PM
Thanks Janneil! Hopefully we’ll both figure it out one of these days!
September 27, 2012 @ 8:42 PM
Oh Ali! I’m sorry you feel so stressed but I’m glad that you have the vision to see that taking a break might be the best solution for now. I hope that you enjoy the time and are able to catch your breath a bit. Take care!
September 28, 2012 @ 10:10 PM
Thanks Gillian, I really appreciate it! Hopefully I won’t need a long break, because I really do enjoy blogging. A week or two seems like plenty to catch my breath and relax. I need to read about your Japan trip!
September 28, 2012 @ 2:22 AM
Ali, you gotta take care of you!! Many of us often ask that question of ourselves and can relate.
Also, i almost hate to say it, but this was a great post b/c I felt like I could really hear your voice and it was raw, heartfelt and honest.
Don’t worry, girlie, we’ll be here when you get back 🙂
September 28, 2012 @ 10:12 PM
Thanks, good to hear you can relate. I’m glad you liked the post, though it was a tough one to write. I hate to have to take a break from blogging, but hopefully I’ll come back refreshed in a week or two. Thank you for the support, and I’m glad to know you’ll still be reading when I get back!
September 28, 2012 @ 2:35 AM
Well the two of us talked about this the other day… & well you know I know how you feel, because that’s how I feel at the moment as well. Sometimes I wonder if traveling really is as amazing as we think it is, when most of the world doesn’t understand us and well life for them just goes one. Where we get stuck in the “what do I wanna be when I grow up” part of life, because the reality of travel is you can’t really do it forever… I mean you can, but in the end is that a life anyone wants? I don’t know if any of this makes sense… I think Im rambling the thoughts that have been running through my mind, because ever since I left Egypt… I’m more confused on my life. I want him, I want travel, I want home. Okay I’ll shut up… enjoy your break… & yes we will be here when you get back. Love ya.
September 28, 2012 @ 10:15 PM
Thanks Jaime! You are rambling a little, but I understand you! I always want travel to be a big part of my life, but I can’t see myself ever wanting to do the permanent nomad thing. A month here, two months there, that sounds good. Who knows if we’ll ever figure out the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question. I hate that you’re feeling so confused right now, but you’ll get through it. Love ya too! Thanks for sticking around while I’m gone!
Bret @ Green Global Travel
September 28, 2012 @ 5:19 AM
I totally understand what you’re going through. I don’t think I could travel long-term. I like having downtime at home, chilling with my kiddo and my dog, and taking time to reflect on the last trip before we leave on the next one. Enjoy your time off, and do whatever you have to do to make your eventual return more balanced for the life you want to lead.
September 28, 2012 @ 10:18 PM
I don’t think I could do long term travel either. Being an expat with a solid home is hard enough. Hopefully a week or two off from blogging will be good for me to relax and clear my head. Thanks Bret!
September 28, 2012 @ 10:30 PM
I’m sorry you are going through a tough time! A break will be great for your soul. I’m sure you will come back feeling motivated and inspired. xo
September 28, 2012 @ 10:45 PM
Thanks Christy! I’ll be ok, but a break is definitely in order. I’m sure I won’t be gone too long though!
September 28, 2012 @ 10:55 PM
What a very brave post! I completely get how you feel. My family and friends from home see my travel photos and think I am living it up in Italy. But it is hard. After 3 years I have no true friends in Italy and there are days a girl just needs a friend she can call up. That’s the part I never share.
Enjoy your break from blogging and I’ll look forward to your return!
September 29, 2012 @ 2:02 PM
Thanks Jennifer! I figured you’d understand this one too. It’s hard some days, but then other days it’s absolutely wonderful. I know it’ll get easier, I just wish that part would hurry up and get here!
September 29, 2012 @ 1:05 PM
I so feel for you. My first 8 months in Germany (with 25 hours of German school were terrible). I struggled to make friends and really struggled to learn German. It does get better though, I promise. If you ever need to chat, let me know.
September 29, 2012 @ 2:06 PM
Thanks Laurel! I’m about halfway through A2, and I have to get through B1 and then take a test to show my German language competency. I don’t think I’ll be taking more classes once I pass that test. I’m slowly starting to feel more comfortable and just starting to make a few friends, so I know it will keep getting better. I guess I just wish it would happen faster! Thanks for the offer, I appreciate it!
September 30, 2012 @ 3:02 AM
Like I said on Twitter, great post Ali! It’s always encouraging for others to share their struggles because we’re never alone in them, even if it feels that way. I love a good, honest post 🙂
Hang in there and kudos on taking a break! I think I’m about to do the same (not like I haven’t been on a partial one for months!).
September 30, 2012 @ 12:57 PM
Thanks Heather! It’s so nice to hear from so many people who understand where I’m coming from. You’ve got so much going on right now, I wouldn’t blame you for taking a break too!
October 2, 2012 @ 11:39 AM
Hey Ali! I really appreciated and 150% understand this post! But, I have good news…it WILL get better. I went through this EXACT stage you are going through a few months ago and I moved past it and really am starting to feel at home in Germany, even on days where everything sucks and everyone seems mean and abrupt. It’s part of culture shock and it will pass, really. It may come back some days since culture shock hits us in waves, but I know you will adjust, make friends, settle in, have break throughs with the language and start to feel that this isn’t just an experience but another home. You will always miss home, I am always missing home and my people and things back there, but they and it will always be there for you. If you ever want to vent about life here though, drop me a line. Being an expat is completely wonderful and completely hard all at once! 🙂
October 2, 2012 @ 4:11 PM
Thanks Kristi! (for both comments) It really does help to know other people understand what I’m going through. It has been getting better, which is probably I crashed so hard when I got hit with a bunch of stuff all at once last week. I know I’ll keep adjusting and get more and more used to being here. I just wish it would happen NOW, you know? 🙂
October 2, 2012 @ 11:40 AM
ps. I also completely understand needing a break from the noise! SO true. And healthy!
Jeff @ GoTravelzing
October 2, 2012 @ 7:02 PM
Life can be difficult no matter where you are living and what you are doing. I can see how it would be even more difficult living in a foreign country.
Just keep doing what you want to do and it will work itself out. Do not think you have to conform to what the “normal” is because it is not always as great as everybody thinks it is.
Keep following your dream!
October 3, 2012 @ 3:17 PM
Thanks Jeff! It is nice to just relax right now and not have so much pressure to blog. I’ll figure out something that works for me eventually, but I’ll definitely be back to blogging soon. And I’m sure living in Germany will continue to get easier as time goes by.
October 3, 2012 @ 9:48 AM
Rally brave of you to write a post like this and put your feelings on display so well. Best of luck for the break, I hope it makes your head feel a little clearer.
October 3, 2012 @ 3:22 PM
Thanks Adela! That’s what I’m hoping too, and so far having a break is at least relaxing. But I’ll be back soon!
October 4, 2012 @ 6:33 AM
You certainly shouldn’t have to fake anything in your new life, Ali! Take a break, get recharged, and then come back better than ever!
October 4, 2012 @ 6:01 PM
Thanks Amanda! I’m a week into my break now, and it feels a little weird, but also a kinda nice to not be putting so much pressure on myself.
Travel Writing Round Up [October 2012] - Caroline in the City
October 4, 2012 @ 9:14 PM
[…] Sometimes I Fake It, Ali’s Adventures: Things aren’t always bright and shiny in a life abroad. Ali speaks the sometimes ugly truth. […]
October 6, 2012 @ 5:33 AM
Nothing wrong with thinking that way, Ali.
Just remember, even when things seems ideal somewhere else, they can still suck. I’m reminded of this everyday. I was on my last major trip a month, and even that short period helped me idealize the life I had here. Trust me, I was fooling myself. While I did miss a lot of things, I’d give anything tho back back on the road in NZ right now.
Take what time you need, but, speaking selfishly, I hope you are not gone long 🙂
October 6, 2012 @ 4:35 PM
Thanks Erik! I know I just hit a rough patch, and I’ll get through it. I just figured taking a break from blogging would give me more energy to focus on other things. Don’t worry, I won’t be gone too long!
October 10, 2012 @ 11:05 PM
Um, you better not stay away for too long. We need more interesting and genuine people like you on the inter-webs.
October 11, 2012 @ 3:51 PM
Aw, thanks Kent! Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!
October 15, 2012 @ 3:47 AM
I know what your feeling. Traveling can be hard, and when I feel like that I always try to keep my chin up and remember what I set out to do. Hope it all works out.
October 15, 2012 @ 11:41 AM
Thanks Stephen! Luckily I’m not on the road right now, but being an expat can certainly be stressful sometimes. But I just put up a post, back to blogging for me!
October 15, 2012 @ 7:35 PM
Haha that’s great to here. I will check out that post asap.
October 15, 2012 @ 11:18 PM
Glad you wrote this post—you’ve captured a lot of my own thoughts about living abroad! Hope you’ve enjoyed your break.
October 16, 2012 @ 3:54 PM
Thanks Adam! It was good to take a couple weeks off, but I’m also glad to be back to blogging again.
fotoeins | Henry
October 16, 2012 @ 5:44 PM
When you wrote backpack, “Jack Wolfskin” immediately came to mind. I don’t remember if they were a little pricey. I’m sure you know by now that JW is ubiquitous in the `Schland. Add to the fact that I knew where that shop was in Heidelberg, right across from the Hauptbahnhof and its bus + tram stop. 🙂
Oddly enough, in München, I know exactly where to go in the Altstadt for the outdoor-gear shops; they seem to have congregated on Sendlinger Strasse. Funny how that works, oder?
October 16, 2012 @ 8:15 PM
Yep, I definitely know about JW! And I looked in there too, but they didn’t have what I was looking for. I don’t really like top loading backpacks, but that seems to be almost all I could find. None of the stores here have the kind of selection REI has, and it’s frustrating. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s minor, so I’ve moved on. Thanks Henry!