The very lovely Holly at English Girl Canadian Man has come up with a range of themes for us to write about to help newbie expats, like us, get our heads around some of the issues we need to face on a daily basis. Our first topic is Self Esteem.
My self-esteem has been boosted and taken hits in equal measure since we began our expat journey but on balance my self-esteem issues seem to have worsened since we have been here in Canada.
Constantly being told you are saying things wrong or weird. Feeling different from everyone else, looking different and generally feeling unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable all contribute to a constant assault on my already fragile self-esteem.
Probably the worst feeling though is when I feel completely alone in a room full of people. No one really gets me here, they don’t understand what our lives were like back in England and they don’t understand them now. I can’t join in conversations when they talk about their past, childhood experiences that I don’t share or even their work week, they assume I don’t have an opinion because I’m not working right now. As a result of feeling like I have nothing valuable to contribute to a conversation, when I’m in a group of people I barely speak at all anymore. I have become much more withdrawn since becoming an expat.
There is no normal anymore, no familiar safe place to retreat to and restore my depleted resources. I screw up all the time while I relearn everything I thought I knew. I often go to bed feeling annoyed, disappointed and frustrated. I’m an intelligent girl after all but I can be completely defeated by a simple trip to the shops.
There have been many times when I have confronted a fear head on and alone and survived it. I’ve put myself in situations so far out of my comfort zone I can’t see the boundary and lived to tell the tale.
The thing is when there is no one there to see my achievements or share these experiences with, somehow they don’t feel so important. Which leads me to wonder whether my self-esteem is entirely based of the opinion of others. Do I need someone to tell me that I’ve done a good job or recognize an accomplishment in order to feel it myself? The truth is, I probably do.
The added bonus.
One major bonus about being, in effect, invisible to the outside world where no one knows me at all is that there is no one there to see me fail. I only have my own conscience to deal with when I screw up, unless I choose to share it on the World Wide Web of course! If I fall off my heels and go arse over head in a DIY store and get so bruised I look like I’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson (yes…I did) who cares, no one will ever know or no one that matters anyway.
I’m still working on a solution although I have noticed that the more I put myself outside of my comfort zone the more my confidence grows, albeit slowly.
I have discovered staying at home by myself just makes me feel a whole lot worse so I need to make the effort to get out.
When it comes to being invisible in a group, I’m happy for other to take centre stage, I’ve never been one to hold court anyway and I have my blog to help me ‘speak’ about things I want to.
The blogging community has been wonderful for empathizing with me, been a fabulous group of listeners, offered advice and they are very free with their compliments, which always makes me smile.