- “As a society, do we have unreasonable expectations about loneliness? Are we now at the point where we’re so hyper-stimulated, that anything short of round-the-clock euphoria is deemed ‘something missing’; that to be happy and content, we need to be erect and gleeful, like some excited puppy peeing on the lounge room carpet? …”
I think he makes a great point on this and a few other things in the article, abeit in his typically irreverent manner. There is no doubt that the expat life can come with crushing loneliness, especially in the early days. Getting used to a new country, culture, potentially language, food, and life in general is difficult enough. Doing it solo, with no spouse or family to rely on for guaranteed support, this life can be really, really hard.
I understand now why I’m so much more likely to befriend other expats. The sense of “we’re in this together” is practically palpable. I’m lucky–nearly nine months here in England and I’m starting to have actual friends, not just acquaintances. Of course, none of them are English.
Today I take Sam‘s point (above) to heart. Part of the richness of the total experience is in the variation of emotion. It does not have to be 100% euphoria all the time to be an overall positive experience. What matters is what you learn about yourself on the days when the loneliness threatens to crush you, and how you manage to grow by deciphering mechanisms to extract yourself from the depths of despair. In the end, alone does not have to mean lonely and lonely does not have to mean miserable.
But as philosophical as I am, it doesn’t make it any less hard. I had a rough day today (there’s a story, likely to appear in another post when the pain is not so raw) and tears were shed. It would be so easy for someone here to make me feel welcome and less alone, but it seems that culturally it would be very difficult for an English person to do. That makes me sad, and makes me wonder how long I can keep up my veneer of cheer and live with the reality of my life here. I appreciate more every day the welcoming spirit of Americans, the friendly overtures, the selfless acts of kindness that are so common as to be unnoticed. When faced with the opposite baseline attitude, the contrast becomes quite stark.