TAPIF acceptances and lecteur recruitment are in full force. I know this because I have received no less than a dozen emails, blog comments, and Facebook messages over the span of the last few weeks. I love getting emails from readers– it gives me the encouragement to keep writing, to keep updating resources for non-EU expats in France, and to keep documenting my travels. It gives me the motivation to seriously consider self-hosting, or expanding my audience, or breaking into the “blogging business” instead of just blogging as a hobby.
Sometimes, I get messages from people stating things along the lines of, “Thank you for being a role model,” or, “You are such an amazing example,” or, “You really have your shit together,” or “You’re living a dream life.” I started this blog because I wanted to help people– I came from a university and a lifestyle and a region in the United States where traveling and teaching abroad are not really seen as relevant, possible, or important. I wanted to show people that it was possible, and help people find answers to their questions; I wanted to give others someone to whom they could relate. I feel in a way, this blog has done that. But yet, even still, when I receive emails with words such as those, I can’t help but to feel both equally flattered and conflicted– Do I really have my shit together? Am I really living a dream life? Am I really deserving of the title, “role model?”
In many, many ways, I am living my own dream life. I set a goal, found a way to come back to France and then found a way to stay. I travel around Europe, have 8 weeks of paid vacation, and am using my degree to do meaningful work that I love. I have a great group of open, diverse, accepting friends living on all corners of the globe. I am healthy, and have a body that works. Really, I love this life, I really do.
But sometimes I still feel like a fraud. Even when I feel like I do have it all, I still find myself overcome with anxiety, sadness, envy or even jealousy.
Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s something I say to myself over and over again, especially when I can’t quite shake off the feeling of inadequacy.
- It’s the feeling of not being good enough, in regards to my intelligence, my body and my weight and shape, my attractiveness, my wardrobe, my gizmos and gadgets, my career, my blog.
- It’s the fear of not being a good friend, a reliable colleague, an inspiring teacher, or the best sister or daughter– not being the person who is there to listen, engage, and lend a shoulder to cry on.
- It’s the fear of feeling like I’m always letting people down, not being able to do it all, and being unable to own my decisions.
- It’s the yearning feeling when you witness another blossoming relationship or engagement: sincerely wishing them the best but equally hoping that one day I’ll have that chance, too
- It’s looking at my empty bank account and living pay check to pay check while my friends at home are buying houses, filling them with nice furniture, and contributing regularly to their pensions and 401K’s.
- It’s just having no idea what you’re doing or where you’re going or who you’re going with.
There are some days that are worse than others. I’ve talked about the blurred lines of writing for strangers on the internet– only presenting the best parts of my life and the best version of myself. But, as my 7-month stint in France has become a 3-year affair, and I’ve gained more followers, I’ve tried to keep my writing, my experiences, more real and relatable. I guess, above all, I’ve learned that insecurities follow you wherever you go.
So, when I feel myself become the victim of FOMO, or of comparison, I try to step back, and put myself back in the now, and again, find joy, and remember the best parts of life, because it’s in the moments of joy that the bundles of inadequacy float away. You don’t need to join a fancy gym or hire a personal trainer in order to prepare for a marathon– you just need to lace up your shoes and go outside.