Sorry for the dramatic blog post title, but it’s kind of where my head is at right now.
Yesterday, one of my best friends since high school got married. The 9 of us (pictured below, the bride isn’t in this photo, sorry Allie!) have stayed incredibly close since high school; we’ve navigated college, three moves abroad, two engagements, lots of breakups, and just in general good times and bad. I feel extremely lucky to have these girls in my corner.
Sometimes, however, I can’t help but feeling like I live a double life. Let me explain.
My dress is from Stitch Fix!
When I’m in China, I think about and miss my friends, family, and life in Ohio. Not that I’m not fully present at home in China, but with Facebook and everything I think a lot about what my life would be like if I was teaching in America instead of abroad. I think about how I could have gone to a friend’s Bachelorette party, or visit my grandparents more. I think about how I would have my own classroom (right now I share classrooms with many other teachers and float around a lot), how I could be contributing to a retirement account and finding a boyfriend (because even though I live in China and might give off the feeling that I could care less, I actually care a lot).
Then when I’m home in America, I think a lot about my life in China. I think about how much I love my independence and freedom, and how much traveling has become ingrained into my life. I think about my amazing students and how much I really, really love my job. I think about how Shanghai is probably one of the coolest places to live EVER and how I really love it. I think of my great friends and support system I have built throughout the past two years.
I feel like I’m giving the illusion that everywhere I am, I’m thinking of the places I could be, but that’s (for the most part) quite untrue. But sometimes I really feel like I’m living a double life; my friends and life in China is so separate from my life at home and is just so DIFFERENT. I don’t know how to put it into words. Do any other expats know what I’m talking about?! Is this normal?!
Another reason for the anxiety is that friends and family are asking a lot about what my next step will be. My school offers a great bonus for three years of service, so after I signed on for my second year, it was no question that I would stay for a third. As I’m about to enter year three, people have already been asking what I plan to do next. “Can we expect you home? Are you thinking of Ohio? What about a different country?” The honest answer? I don’t know. I thought about staying in China for a fourth year, but my intuition is telling me it’s time to spread my wings and look for a new job. I don’t think I’m ready to move back to America, so the question is, where do I live? I know I have plenty of time to figure it out, and I have lots of opportunities and am super #blessed, but sometimes I just want to respond to people with this GIF:
This might be one of the most self-indulgent blog posts I’ve ever written, but sometimes a girls just gotta type it out.
My fellow expats, can you relate to the double-life syndrome?*
*Not a real thing, just made it up 😉