Part 8: Recession’s Lessons for Personal Life
This is a follow up (and final) post on the series “The Crisis in Spain: By a Taxpaying Expat”. Previous content: Part I: Introduction and Something Part II: Crisis and Entrepreneurship Part III: Working on a Regular Day Job Part IV: Prices of the Crisis Part V: The Crisis is a Farce Part VI: Lessons for Life in Society Part VII: The Life Abroad
Today, after two and a half years of getting a new job in Barcelona, the steady one after a messy one, many things have happened on the way.
I’ve met amazing people, equally-minded ones which are good friends in life now.
I’ve been the happiest.
I’ve shared my life with a special someone all along. One who merged his dream with mine and took my hand to fly together.
I’ve lived in a place I dreamed of since I can remember.
I’ve had a balcony where I’ve been able to get inspired and write a lot, think a lot, have drinks and chats of all kinds a lot.
I’ve missed my family 8000 kms away.
I’ve traveled home and back, making one of the most valuable and eye-opening experiences in my life.
I’ve smiled a lot.
I’ve been robbed.
I’ve grown my attitude towards everything (life, trouble, happiness, opportunities) in amazing ways.
I’ve been on the top of my happy mountain too.
I’ve lost special and close people while being abroad.
I’ve felt like this will be over soon.
Then I’ve felt nostalgic and sad.
I’ve been able to find a job, quit a job, find a new one and still be okay.
I’ve wanted (and still do) to finally quit my actual job and go into freelance writing.
I’ve thought of moving somewhere else (some day maybe again, who knows)…or simply moving back home to my warm people.
Yes, almost four years have allowed me a lot in a foreign country. Things I would not have learned any other way for sure. After getting to know a new country and a new culture, particularly one suffering severe economic issues during my whole stay, I have come to some conclusions regarding personal life, different from the last post talking about this but regarding social life.
Once again, I just hope you can get some essential vital juice from any of these. This is not a coaching lesson, but simply a list on personal experience by someone who is living the crisis as an expat in Spain, and who probably will be pushed away from this place due to this reason…eventually and against my own will. But life knows better and it is wiser to listen to it carefully.
1. Being an expat is the most wonderful thing that anyone could experience, including all the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t ever doubt on having this experience. It is completely possible and anyone can go on it!
2. Nothing is impossible AT ALL. I was able to live and pay high prices for many things in a broken Spain, with salary cuts and more. And we still managed to be good, we still do.
3. Dreams and desires: we all have them. And they come true with actions and by working on them. Nothing comes magically to your hand. So get on them, and you will find yourself living your dream.
4. Every country has positive and negative aspects. Unfortunately for Spain right now, they are living on the negative side, having an important weight in people’s lives. But it all shall pass and people shall keep on living.
5. Changes: When something you don’t like about life comes up, change it as soon as possible. Your happiness depends on it! It all takes some time, we know it, but start looking for the change you might be needing…and you will find it.
6. If you share life with a special someone, enjoy every second of it. You never know when something can take him/her from you (accident, disease, people, a job, emotions). Is not about being constantly negative or paranoid, just live a happy and true life together.
7. Make a routine, even more if you work at home or as freelance. Mind and body have biological schedules…and you can never trick those. I tried for a year and believe me, I was not successful at all.
8. Enjoy music. Get into any mood with it. Music can help in all kind of situations.
9. Look for moments to relax and really disconnect from everything. Mind and body needs it.
10. Communicate frequently with the people in your life. Talk deeply and truly. Never keep words for yourself, no matter if they are good or sad words, you must always share them with someone. It is healthy and special.
11. When tough times and decisions come your way, take time to think properly. If decisions come fast and you are 100% sure about it, don’t loose any time! If you feel unsure, wait as you work on making and/or finding a change.
12. Talk about sex with people you trust and with whom you feel like sharing. It is healthy too and it is part of everyone’s life. There are many taboos in the air around this theme that shouldn’t really exist, and they harm people many times, just for not talking about it. As surprising as it may seem, LOTS of people don’t talk about sex with friends. It really makes people happy and relieved to do so. Let’s break those taboos!
13. Nap frequently (yeah, almost the spanish style!). It is also healthy for mind and body. But remember schedules too! You don’t want your body functioning at a different time than your brain.
14. Do anything you like outdoors. I have to accept I am not a sports person but I definitely enjoy the sunny days and the fresh air. There is no way I can spend three days in a row without leaving my flat! Whatever it works for you, find it and DO it. Don’t be lame.
15. Stop being a lazy ass: don’t procrastinate. I have been dealing with this word a lot lately (a few months now) and boy, is this tough! I didn’t even had quite clear the meaning of this word…until now. It is emotionally exhausting. So, don’t leave your shit undone and piling up!
16. Socialize. In a foreign country it can be a difficult task to go out and have some drinks with friends like you used to do back at home….you will probably won’t have any friends for a while. But you got to make an effort yourself, even when your mind and couch say “please stay!”. Just don’t. Fight the feeling and look for groups, meet ups and get out of there at least once a week.
17. Bath daily and early, followed or preceded by a fresh cup of coffee or whatever feels like breakfast to you.
- I used to work part time in the afternoon for a year and a half here in Barcelona. My day back then, used to start at 1:00 pm, when I had coffee for breakfast, while watching some shows from last night as we downloaded the latest. Next thing, I went to take a shower and get ready for work, starting at 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Then, when I was back home, we cooked some dinner (lunch?) and stay up until late, let’s say around 4:00 am. We lived like vampires! Believe me, it was nice at the very start, since it was winter and what a great feeling it was to wake up late in the cold…but not for long. After a while, your body finds out the schedule scam. (Re-read point #8). True Story! /This goes in #1 priority if you work at home/
18. Have a hobby. No matter what it is, it does not takes large amounts of money to do something you love and makes you relax or get distracted. Make it a habit. The emotional-you will be forever grateful.
19. Be free, take time to breath, to stop, to disconnect. But remember having a schedule, no matter how basic it is.
20. Happiness is a daily thing. Big or small, make it count.
All these are my conclusions for personal life and well being after having lived and sensed the recession from different angles. These doesn’t mean at all that I have a perfect life or that I am ruled by them constantly…but I try, as I learned them not by reading them somewhere else, but by experiencing them in my own flesh. Some where through good times, others through bad times.
It has been three and a half great and insightful years in a place where people are burned out since I arrived; a country where people are tired of politics and promises. A country where I have felt the bitterness of people in daily life, salary cuts twice, abusive companies and bosses ripping off everyone’s last daily smile from their face many times. But also a country, where I have met true people too, true friends, true relationships. It makes me have faith in all this, faith in a brighter future for each one of them and myself.
I have learned all these while living and sensing this place from the very inside. A social crisis like I have never seen or felt in my own country. I can’t avoid the thought and the feeling of having a second option myself in my pocket every time. I will always have home to go back…but they don’t. I feel guilty in my head as I recall this option in my head most of the times. I rather don’t talk about it and keep just listening to them, laughing or complaining together. But it becomes overwhelming and exhausting to hold it all inside after a while…but I keep trying, for them, for us as a unit, as co-workers but more than than, as friends.
I have suffered as they had to, too. I have been unsatisfied and unhappy some days at my job. I have sensed it all just like them, like any spanish citizen. I’ve reached a burned.out point in a year or less, fluctuating many times between good, bad and not-too-bad.
And this hasn’t made a bitter person at all, but a better one instead. For my own life, for my people and for what I really care in life and nothing else. For the present and for the future.
It is definitely not all gray and dark. I have seen friends’ bad days along with the good ones too. We have shared it all and I feel honored to be a little part of their life, to be a small sunshine in their day as I can still smile more times than they do, as they are thankful for them, asking me not to stop smiling whenever I can. Because it brightens up their day. And they trust me and we have built a strong and beautiful relationship that will last longer than the crisis.
Living abroad under these circumstances have made me different from the person I was upon arrival, loving the new me as I look back.
I feel very sorry about Spain suffering all this and going through all this, which will probably keep on going for a while more. But it makes me hope that in a few years, it will stand up again, stronger and wiser. People having a deep and happy breath again. A real one lasting for long.
In the meantime, I rather stick to what I have learned, keep sharing a smile to those who can’t find one on rough days, and maybe I will be a little light in their lives for a day or two, every once in a while.
It has not been easy living in Spain while the recession has been a parallel event in our lives here. But it has definitely been the biggest and best lesson in my life.
Tough? For sure.
Decisions? A lot.
Time to move on? Probably soon.
Regrets? Not at all.
Should you go and experience living abroad? Without doubt!
My overall conclusion?
Dream a lot and work in order to reach your dreams. It is completely possible…no matter what, where or how!
Follow the Entire Series:
Part VIII: Recession’s Lessons for Personal Life (The one you are reading right now)