I guess this was expected. Moving to another country, knowing no one, being alone and lonely. But, I never thought it would feel like this. You know, when I lived in Montreal I was a bit lonely but that was self-inflicted, I didn't want to go out much but, here, in Madrid, I do want to go out and live but, making friends has been my biggest challenge as of yet. I just don't fit in with these people...
I mean, yeah, okay, I've met some cool people at work but even with them, I don't fit in. They all speak their language and I clearly don't understand anything so I just sit there like an idiot wondering why I even came out with them... I'm with a smile on my face waiting for someone to realize that I'm there and that I don't understand. Its unbearable. Frankly, it's frustrating and annoying and I obviously can't learn five languages to understand everyone.
So, what do I do? I revert to my good ol' ways and hide in my room and binge watchCriminal Minds and write. Sounds fun for a while, but then your mind gets the best of you and you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you and ask yourself why don't people want to be my friend.
"Why don't people want to be my friend?"
I'm 28 years old, I shouldn't be asking myself questions which are an existential crisis to a 6-year-old.
If they don't want to be my friend, well, fuck em!—I tell myself.
I go back to work and try to fit in. This is a true story. When I moved here, in Madrid, I realized that all, and I mean, ALL the girls would dress very nice, makeup done every day, high heels, hair done to the nines, and I was regular Anik, wearing black and white, not really doing my makeup, hiding behind sunglasses and wearing old sneakers I brought over from Canada. I then started to think to myself, "Shit, maybe if I want to make friends, I need to look like them." Now, if you know me, I've never been one to EVER change for anyone (ask my parents, we've tried to fight this battle and lost terribly) but here, I was so far away from everything I knew, I was lonely and scared and frankly, I was lost. My whole world had shifted. So, I went out and bought colourful clothes. Pants with flowers on them, lose cool pants and nice shoes and colourful tops to match everything. I started waking up early to fix hair nicely and do my makeup everything (lipstick included) and, after a few months, it wasn't working. These people never noticed me. I got frustrated but kept trying. And trying. And trying. And trying. Until one day, while walking on a busy sidewalk after a tiring walk around the city with my boyfriend, it clicked.
If they don't like me, then they don't deserve to be my friend!!
And as much as that sounds like a 10-year-old shouting in a rage, it's an extremely important thought that we must all retain.
I had spent four months trying to impress people that didn't even notice I existed. People that, on a good day, couldn't even manage to say "good morning" to me or even a quiet "bye" when they left the office. That didn't even make an effort to speak to me in a language that I understood. That couldn't even say thank you when I held the door for them or offer me, sweets when they were offering them to everyone else around me.
I looked at my boyfriend and said, Nah, fuck that. I'm going to buy some Doc Martens and returning to my old self. The Anik that I used to be in Canada. The girl that didn't care what people thought of her and did what she wanted, when she wanted, and on no one else's watch but her own.
And I did just that.
I bought some Doc Martens.
Once I got home, I was pumped. I was fueled. My blood was racing in my veins. I was so pumped that I destroyed ALL my colourful clothes. I cut them up and stretched them out and threw all of the bits and pieces in the trash.
The relief of the pressure was so big that it felt like finally opening the bottle of champagne after violently shaking it.
At that moment, I realized that I didn't need to change my clothes or my hair or makeup to impress anyone. I felt like I was living in a clown suit for four months. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I was trying so damn hard to impress people that I should of never, ever wasted my time on.
The next week at work, I wore my black boots, my black pants and my black t-shirt, the red lipstick and my hair up, tattoos showing and I thought, this is me. This is who I am and there's no one else or anything else that I'd rather look like right now, then THIS!
I felt at ease, I felt comfortable and it dawned on me that it didn't matter if these people liked me or not. The only thing that mattered is if I was happy with myself and, I was (still am). Sitting in my chair at my desk, my pants weren't too tight, I wasn't wondering if I looked fat or not or if anyone would notice the extra time I spent on my hair... I just sat there, listening to heavy metal and didn't bother myself with anyone's thoughts of concerns but my own.
So, moral of the story, NEVER change to impress people. No one cares and no one notices. Be your weird self and people will flock to you. The right people will always find you. Always.
Ever get that feeling like you’ve accomplished something really big in your life yet, you still feel empty and still feel like you want more and more and more?
(Hoping you’ve answered yes).
Well, I moved to Madrid a few months ago, pretty cool right?! I had worked my ass off to save all my money to come here. I sold everything I owned, applied for the visa, bought the tickets and, here I am!
I left my land of ice and snow (Canada) and I flew here partially for love, but, mostly for a new beginning. Honestly, I was tired of Canada—yes it’s an amazing and progressive country (well…kind of, they legalized pot which is somewhat progressive, right?), yet, I didn’t feel like I was fitting in with the crowd.
I’ve never wanted to fit in per se, yet, part of me always wanted to be part of something. I’m still not sure what that “something” is but eventually, I'll figure it out.
Anyway, I moved to Madrid! I started working and I’ve met some really nice people from many different countries and even made friends, yeah, this is pretty big for me since I’m very anti-social, don't like people much and kind of awkward but hey, they enjoy my company I guess! I’ve been making a little bit of money and having time to relax and travel around the country which has been fantastic. I've seen some of the nicest beaches and most precious little villages in Spain, it’s truly remarkable.
The best part is that my boyfriend lives in Portugal and every two to three weeks I get to go to Portugal. Think about it, I can travel from one country to the next in less than two hours. Pretty crazy. In Canada, you could only get to the next city while driving for two hours haha!
But in all honesty and negativity aside, Spain has been pretty decent since I’ve moved here. The people, well, they need to learn manners and politeness but once you get past this, they can be, nice. They make great food AND since they enjoy socializing amongst themselves so much, there’s an abundance of bars and clubs to visit. You can visit a new one every day, which, I don’t recommend because you’ll become an alcoholic but, nonetheless, you'll never run out of options.
Besides the great aspects of Madrid’s social life, it’s been kind of lonely here. My boyfriend lives in Portugal so we're apart often, my mom, well, everyone and everything I know is back in Canada. You know, they say you don’t realize what you’ve got til it is gone… and I’m starting to realize that my mom’s burgers on the grill. Well, I fucking miss them, even though I complained about eating them all the time and her annoying complaining about the house being dirty and no one helping her do anything around the house, well, I’d give my left arm to help my mom do the dishes right not. You don’t realize how comfortable your bed is or the air in your home smells delicious until you live 4000 kilometres away from that air. You underestimate this hole in yourself that will grow and grow once you leave familiarity behind. You overestimate how confident you will be when faced with language barriers and different cultures and you definitely don't expect to be stuck in the middle of nowhere knowing no one or nothing around you. You don't expect to feel so lost.
I expected to move here and have my fears and negativity vanish. I was ready to start a new life, a new chapter as they say. HAHA!
I moved here and I felt worst then before. My fears and anxieties became so evident to me it was almost paralyzing. It was as if they acted as a straightjacket and I couldn't Houdini my way out. It was certainly one of the most uncertain moments of my life. I didn't know who I was anymore which, brought on more questions.
Should I be here?
Did I make the right move?
Who am I?
Maybe this was supposed to happen. That somehow, the universe had put this major move, unrooted me from my home and transported me here to make me question myself. Yet, in this transition of which I tried to fight, I discovered that I'm one resilient son of a bitch, that finding yourself can be easy if you break down your walls and be honest with you, that perhaps, learning new languages and eating new food won't kill you and that travelling is the world's most precious way of offering you a better version of yourself.
I know, because I did it.
Here I am, I’m in Madrid.
I guess I never will want to admit this to myself.
This incurable unhappiness stuck so deep inside me. This cemented, anchored, armoured heaviness in the core of my being which refuses to leave. This feeling of never being satisfied. Eating, but having a hole in your stomach. Running, but not moving. Breathing, but fucking suffocating.
Urgh, the heaviness.
It's as though nothing on this earth could possibly make you happy (unless millions showed up on my bank account, that could make me smile a bit more!), even though you've tried the bullshit meditation and mindfulness exercises and journaling and yoga and read that book your friend's aunt recommended; nothing works. Nothing fills that gap you've got lodged in the pit of your stomach. Not even chips, warm pajamas, and Netflix all combined.
I guess I didn't want, and still don't want, to admit to myself that I’m not fixed. That moving away and running away from myself has not yet worked and I’m still not fixed. That maybe coming here was a bad idea or that maybe I will always be like this, but how can I admit this to myself when I have this illusion in my mind telling me everything is fine.
I want to believe this illusion, my god, do I want to believe it. I want to believe so god damn bad, but I know...I know I’m still unfixed.
In the midst of my mental chaos, in the middle of my existential crisis happening in my Lavapíes apartment on a daily basis, I managed to see some light at the end of the very, very obscure tunnel.
I met someone. (Yeah yeah yeah, get all your judgements out now...)
I met someone that doesn’t make me question my self-worth. I met someone that doesn’t make me ask myself why I do the things I do, and criticize them, but rather, tries to understand my functioning and open his mind to new possibilities on doing and seeing things. I met someone that, as cliche as it sounds, tells me I’m beautiful everyday, even when I have mascara down to my cheeks or my hair is a fluffy mess or I’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for four days in a row—and you know what, it feels fucking amazing. I met someone that chases my happiness as much as his own. I met someone that pushes me so high towards my goals and dreams that sometimes, when I look down, I'm scared to fall, but then I remember he'd never let me fall and then I stop and I think to myself, that with this much support, my crazy dreams could actually be obtainable. That maybe one day, I would have gained enough courage to ACTUALLY do the things I've been dreaming of doing and accomplishing. Maybe.
My journey across the ocean has not been easy for me. Maybe it has been for others reading this, but for me, it’s been sort of, well, kind of shy of a nightmare. I’ve been very homesick. I’ve had nights where I’ve cried wanting to go back home to familiar things. I’ve had days of intense loneliness and nights filled with heartache, but with the support of my special person, I’ve been able to conquer this treacherous adventure.
I've been able to open doors I had promised myself to keep shut. I've been able to finally be myself (what a relief) and just breath. I've had the courage to continue writing and doing things I've once loved and cherished. This person did not change me. This person enabled me to see how the world can be beautiful if we just try a little harder.