You might have noticed I’ve been a little quiet on the blog as of late. In all honesty, I’ve been going through a bit of a difficult time here and didn’t feel like writing or trying to portray a rose tinted view of how I’m feeling. When I decided to start my blog and to write about my journey I promised to keep it as real as possible. I decided on this for a couple of reasons, the first being that I think it’s really important to be realistic with what you’re sharing and that means sharing the good with the bad. Life isn’t a constant stream of sunshine and rainbows and it would be wrong to make people think otherwise. The second is that I wanted to give a genuine representation of the journey I’m on, so that when I read back through my posts in the future I’m able to see the wonderful experiences I had as well as the trying times I was able to work through and come out the other side of. I wanted my blog to act as a kind of journal for me and that means remembering when I didn’t feel so positive or like I had my shit together.
So, let’s get into it shall we? I’ve been here in France for just over 2 months now and I think it’s safe to say the initial honeymoon period is over. When I first moved everything was exciting, I was in a new place, hearing a new language, meeting new people and trying new things. There was a lot to keep me occupied and to look forward to. Each day brought something new, a new experience, a new place or a new lesson. After living and working in London for 6 years it was fun to be following a completely different path and a routine that couldn’t be further from what I was used to. However, a couple of months in and those sparkling moments of ‘something new’ start to fade, you’re getting used to where you are and the reality of what you’ve done starts to creep in. For me that’s leaving behind a job, my friends, my family and everything I found familiar. I’m a creature of habit and I can find change unsettling. Certain things here are just…difficult. Everything is a little more of a challenge, even simple things like finding your usual moisturiser or the toothpaste you like. There’s no Boots (my absolute saviour in the U.K and somewhere I spend far too much money) and pharmacies are great but expensive, especially when it comes to skincare. I’ve had to do a lot of trial and error but I think I’m finally finding alternatives to those things that aren’t available here. I also have to be thrifty as being an au pair doesn’t pay very well and I don’t want to squander all of my savings whilst here. Having to do simple things like that can feel so much more difficult than they actually are simply because it’s unfamiliar and you’ve got to look that bit harder.
Being here can be quite isolating, although I’m surround by my host family most of the time and have made some friends here you can still feel very alone. I miss my friends back home, I miss being able to go for a drink with them on a whim or spending a hungover Sunday with my flatmates watching Netflix whilst eating Deliveroo. I miss seeing my family, I used to see my sister who lives in London at least once a week and it’s difficult not being able to pop to hers when I need a laugh, a hug or a homely meal and an X Factor session. It’s those things you start to miss most. Familiarity, comfort, home.
Then there’s the language. It’s been ten years since I studied French and 6 years since I’ve been in education, going back to learning has been fun but not without difficulties. French isn’t the simplest language, every time you think you’ve understood a rule and can apply it there are exceptions thrown into the mix. It can feel like an information overload at times and often like a battle you’re not sure you’re going to win. As I have the intention of staying in Paris and working after my year au pairing I feel a lot of pressure to do well. It’s completely self-imposed and I often expect too much of myself, set my expectations too high and then give myself a hard time over it. It’s something I’m aware of but I find it difficult to lower that expectation, to my own detriment as I then become anxious and frustrated that I’m not doing as well as I ‘should be’. In reality I’m probably doing alright and I can certainly get by without too much difficulty. I know I just need to be patient and as long as I continue to try and study this is something that will come in time. Two months learning and being surrounded by the language really isn’t that long!
To most I think I appear pretty composed and in control. I’m certainly showing all the best bits of this experience on social media, but we all know that’s not always a true representation of reality. Behind the scenes I’m quite an emotional person. With my family I’m often very open about how I’m feeling and what I’m struggling with. I’ve cried a lot the past few weeks. I fell off my bike the other day, I called my sister and immediately started crying. I hadn’t even hurt myself that badly, it was just an opportunity to let go of everything I’d been feeling. I find things like this difficult to share as I’m quite a private person. I don’t often tell even my closest friends how I’m really feeling and I don’t feel comfortable appearing vulnerable. This whole post has actually been quite hard to write and I’ve thought about not posting it a few times. It’s difficult letting people know you’ve been having a tough time, especially when you feel some sense of guilt. I have so much to be happy about and thankful for and this is an amazing experience that I’ve got the opportunity to take that sometimes it feels like you should only be talking about the wonderful parts. But I wouldn’t be being honest with myself or the purpose of why I’m documenting my journey if I did that.
I’m trying really hard to turn my mindset around and get back to being ‘happy’ and not to dwell on how I’ve been feeling. I know it’s only temporary and I know that it’s completely normal but I’m also aware that there are things I can do to help myself. One of those things is to exercise, every time I go for a run I feel better. Even if I really don’t feel like it, or I don’t run as far or as fast as I would like it lifts my mood. I feel better just for moving, for taking some time just to get away from everything and to let my mind be free for a short amount of time. I’ve not been running as much the last week or so because it’s been raining a lot and I’ve definitely noticed the difference in my mood. So yesterday, I got myself up and I went for a very short run and I instantly felt better. Tomorrow I’m going to do the same thing, and I’m going to attempt to get back into a routine of running at least 3 times a week. It’s a cliché but exercise isn’t just good for your physical health, it’s also good for your mind too. I’ve also been reading a lot, I’ve just finished The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and now I’m reading The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter. I find reading really relaxing and a good way to take a break from technology, I try and read daily especially if I’m taking a train journey or I have some time to spare in the evening. Something else I’ve done is write a few letters and postcards to family and friends. I also got myself out and about Paris, I spent a day at Palais Royal (it’s beautiful as you can see above) with a friend and spent time just walking around the city. The city that I really do love and I’m so glad I get to call home. I’ve also spent a lot of time talking to my family and texting my best friend. All of these things make me feel better and remind me that everything will be ok. It’s also really not that long until I’m back home for Christmas and that’s definitely something to look forward to.
I’m feeling much better this week and I’m going to try and keep the positivity going!