In my brain I assume that three to five of my friends and/or family will read this and quietly criticize me, but cheer me on to my face (“You’re doing great, sweetie!”) because, well, that’s just what my brain does. But a few things have happened recently that brought me here. One, I saw Michelle Obama speak on her book tour. Two, I have been without a job, in a foreign country, for two years and have been on a journey (and I do not use that term lightly!) to find the “right opportunity.” Three, I posted something on social media recently and was taken aback by the comments. Not because they were negative but because people said things like: they admired me, that I was adventurous, that I was gutsy… and I felt like a fraud.
“You are connecting with my vulnerability, and that’s the opposite of what we’re taught. We are taught to hide ourselves. Particularly women and people of color. People who feel marginalized. People who aren’t wealthy, who don’t have status. People who are working hard everyday who feel unseen. Because the truth is […], we don’t all hear our stories told in a profound way and […] that creates a level of invisibility, so we hide ourselves. But I think that the opposite is true. That, if we can open up a little bit more to each other, and share our stories, our REAL stories. Our pain and our triumphs, our hopes and our joys. In the little journeys that we all take, that’s what breaks down barriers.” -Michelle Obama Ziggo Dome April 2019
“Dare to be Vulnerable”
Maybe my expat life looks like a gutsy adventure to someone else. When I asked friends and family what they would like me to write about it was unanimously my American in Europe experience. I imagine the social media lens has a lot to do with that, but the reality for me is that this is the most difficult time in my life. I try to be honest. I don’t go on social media to create an image or ideal, I truly just want to share what is bringing me joy. But I am also not posting photos of my therapist-prescribed Mindfulness Group. Or the two years worth of job rejection letters. Or writing manifestos about how I feel this move aged me faster in two years than the previous 40 and I’m just not okay with that yet. That I loved my experience at an elephant sanctuary soooo much but REALLY REALLY (like a lot) struggled to post photos of myself blissed out, because I was in a bathing suit (I prayed to Chrissy Teigen for the strength to do it). How many of us relate to THOSE stories? Most of us.
“You first have to believe that your story has value and we all don’t believe that. Most of us don’t.”
So that is why. Maybe only three to five of my friends and/or family will show up here and quietly judge me. Maybe there won’t be many people willing to ACTUALLY be vulnerable because, let’s be honest, that shit ain’t easy! But what Michelle Obama said really spoke to me; In order to break down barriers for women and people of color we need to tell our stories. Maybe I stop waiting for the “right opportunity” and create an online community of regular folks, who feel unseen, sharing their REAL stories. A place where our stories have value. A place where we say, “Wow. THAT PART. I have felt that too and felt really alone until I heard your story.” Tell our stories. Become less invisible. Break down barriers.