Would you agree that the many ups and downs in life make the positives stand out better and remind us to appreciate all the good stuff in our lives?
I like to define my life as a continuous roller-coaster ride. There are the exciting uphills and the steep drops, ranging emotions from fear to thrill and from emptiness to belly-laughter. In between, there are calm moments offering a moment of deep breaths to get prepared for the next sets of ups and downs.
The good thing in growing older and having experienced many ups and downs is the knowledge and assurance of surviving the down times and the appreciation of the ups. The downs and the dull times both contribute to the level of joy experienced with lives small and big rewarding moments.
In an expat life these moments happen likely more often than in a more settled down type of living. Integrating to a new culture, languages, habits, environment and people is rewarding and fun, but exhausting and frustrating at times too. At times it’s difficult to feel rooted when nothing seems to work on your favor. It’s emotionally tiring to be constantly open for new people to enter your life and heart, knowing that many of them will leave as abruptly as they appeared. Expats constantly are exposed to new people, new opportunities and new challenges.
I’ve always felt easily adaptable to new living and working environments, to food and lifestyles. I’m open for new friendships and relationships of all levels. But there are times when even I have to question my strength and flexibility. Fortunately the skeptical periods usually don’t last long and the positive experiences take a clear win over the gray areas or missed shots. An open heart is exposed to exploitation and deep hurts – but it’s also the entryway for all those amazing people and adventures that make up the meaning of life. Life needs to be fully lived, and that means we can’t safeguard ourselves from all potential hurts.
I recently let someone into my life who chose to take advantage of my open heart and easy-going mentality. I acted naive and too trusting. I hoped for the best, ignored the many warning signs and wanted to keep my faith on the goodness and honesty of people. I take it as a lesson learned that will act as a reminder in the future, to love and appreciate myself so much that I won’t let anyone walk over me. It’s been a painful process to get over the shame of letting myself being treated in an appropriate way, but I add that experience to my survival stories.
After the downhill, this weekend shone light form all directions. I spent hours and hours laughing with great friends – both new and old. I made many new friends over the weekend, the kinds who I know will remain in my life because there’s an obvious connection. You know, people you feel you’ve known for ever even if you just met. These are my lives little victories and what I love about expat life the most – the constant opportunities for meeting new, amazing, stunning people who enter your life and leave a mark.
I consider myself lucky for having such stunning people in my life – and I also realize each and everyone of us has the same chance. If we are open for new people to enter our lives, if we keep our hearts accessible by anyone and let our guards down, there’s no limits to the joys of living. Don’t try to live avoiding to get hurt because that will only keep the joys from finding you. Life needs to be lived, through the pain and miseries, looking forwards to the light.