Accepting My Own Journey (Claudia)

Dear Ali,

As we live abroad, taking on lives that aren’t construed by the general public as ‘normal,’ both Dani and I have found it difficult to accept where we are and where we are going without comparing ourselves too much to others. We know that, logically, the comparisons don’t make any sense because no one has the same life as anyone else, but looking back to friends and classmates in the U.S., sometimes it can be hard to remember that. As part of our personal wellness journeys, Dani and I have decided that it is important to work towards understanding and accepting where we are right now and where we (potentially) are headed, wherever that may be.

 And old picture with friends, but my past shapes my future. 

And old picture with friends, but my past shapes my future. 

Recently I was talking with a dear friend while traveling and when I told him that I missed him a lot, his response was something along the lines of “You don’t miss me, you miss the life you had when we were living in the same place.” Now, this isn’t exactly true because I do care about him deeply and would love to have him living nearby in the future as his friendship itself is good for my soul (or emotional well being or whatever you want to call it), but what he said does have some truth to it. As an opposite to how Dani wrote about the pieces in her life slowing falling together as she begins to really, truly establish herself in Granada, I would say that my life is slowly going the other direction, falling away from Granada.

 

Perhaps it is because I started off in a totally different place than most people who decide to move here. With my family based out of Granada, I was comfortable to come here and study my entire degree abroad (read parts one and two here). The most ‘normal for a foreigner’ things I did included teaching English and hanging out with other foreigners. However, currently, I work with people who regularly ask me for Spanish to English translations and who think it is cute that I am one of the first guiris to work there. I also had other non-typical jobs, have a ample group of Spanish friends that I tend to spend a lot of time with, and have managed to convince the boys in my soccer group that girls play in America.

 Life is the Journey not the destination. A view of the Alhambra, Granada.

Life is the Journey not the destination. A view of the Alhambra, Granada.

My level of integration is not as much as my brother, who finished his high school studies here and could be Spanish in a lot of aspects, but it is higher than a lot of other foreign people I know. And that is hard because on one hand, sometimes I feel alone in my current situation because while I will never truly be Spanish, I would no longer consider myself to be 100% American either (like Dani talks about in this article).

This means that I am at a crossroads for where I want to continue (emotionally and physically) moving forward. I have the incredible opportunity to decide what I want to do professionally and where I want to live, at least within the States and Europe. Unlike Dani, whose heart is tied to Spain, sometimes I feel like I belong anywhere but here. That’s not to say I don’t love it—because I really do—but that Granada no longer feels like the place for future me. However, I am not really sure what that future home or profession will be.

Talking with the previously mentioned wise friend the other day* I realised that one of the biggest issues for this is the lack of challenge in Granada. I have a great job, with great compañeros de trabajo—my workmates. I have some incredible friends and am working on some really cool projects (this is one of the things I am currently involved in). My family is here which makes me feel really safe, but something is missing. I don’t really know what it is, but people who know me really well can see it or feel it or something of the like because they know I am looking for a different opportunity or new adventure.

So, unlike Dani, who is settling in, I am probably getting ready to head off again… to somewhere different, doing something that helps me grow as a professional and a person. And this decision is really hard in itself. Financially, in Granada I am comfortable. My family and friends here are great, so emotionally I should be set in that aspect too. But soon I will be setting off in search of something that I can’t truly identify or define.

 I saw this graffiti the other day in Granada and it really made me think. Translation: "What would you do if you were not afraid?"

I saw this graffiti the other day in Granada and it really made me think. Translation: "What would you do if you were not afraid?"

All I can hope for is continued support from those people who love me and the dedication and desire to follow my own choices. I am lucky not only to count on a wonderful group of people who are important in my life (both near and far), but also to be incredibly stubborn and a bit of a workaholic. Still I need all the advice I can get—do you have any tips??

 

Sincerely,
Claudia

 

*I really hope that at one point this person reads this entry and that, even though he was really tired when we had this conversation, recognises that I am talking about him and that he is an amazingly awesome person and, despite all the stuff I say, I really do love having him in my life.