One thing I have learned since coming to live in France is that some people are going to, without any remorse or second thought, screw you over simply because you are a foreigner who knows no better. I have learned that in order to survive as an expat, I need to, for lack of a better term, grow some balls (or perhaps grow a vagina because those things actually do take a pounding) and stick up for myself when people are trying to take advantage of me or are doing something that makes me feel uncomfortable. I have learned that I cannot be afraid to be assertive, and that in order to survive and be happy, I need to go after what I want, especially when I am the one being screwed with. Most importantly, I have realized that I absolutely cannot be afraid or feel guilty about doing so.
There’s a saying in French that goes, «Trop bon, trop con,» which roughly translates to, “He’s too nice for his own good.” My colleague explained to me last week that I am la conne in these situations. I’m the person who is too nice for her own good, and as a result I am miserable, and therefore I need to do something about it and change my actions.
She was right.
So, this week, instead of focusing on so many new blog posts, I’ve been fixing the things I’ve let take a negative spin on my life in France, and also deciding which ones I’m going to leave alone and just not be bothered by anymore. For professional and privacy reasons, I won’t get into the details online, but I will tell you that even though it was hard at first, it has been worth it, and I’ve actually slept a lot better this week because of it.
I have learned that especially living in a foreign country where there are different rules, expectations, and language barriers, I need to upfront and honest. I carry the «C’est Normal» mentality. The overwhelming majority of French people I have met have been more good than bad; I like to assume the best in people. Therefore, sometimes I forget (or maybe I just don’t want to remember) that there are people who are greedy and selfish.
I’ve always been nice; I’ve always wanted people to like me. Over the years I’ve let classmates and teammates and professors and bosses step over me and bully me; I have habitually never said anything for fear of creating further conflict in my life. This badly learned habit has followed me in all walks of life, and has, in many cases, held me back or at least caused me to lose unnecessary sleep because I was not brave enough to do something about it. These past couple of weeks have been a wake up call; sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and deal with the task at hand.
Hopefully now I can fully enjoy France again.