From Social to Asocial in 3 Years Time

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I’m officially tired of people. So tired, that I had the courage to actually say it out loud (and even write about it).

More (people) is less (sociability)

I guess I’ve kind of broken the common assumption that once you are an expat, you become more sociable. And I had such a promising start! There I was, getting high on new exciting expat or local stories, which I could write about or tell to my friends back home.

Because it’s true, I’ve met a lot of people. Tens of new people, hundreds even, in the last 3 years. I just realized that during my coaching course, I’ve met around 75 new people, whom I’ve really tried to get to know. And it was fascinating for a while. I’ve met people who only became expats to earn more money, making this their only objective and ending up not even noticing the world around them. While in the opposite corner sit the experience seekers, the restless ones, the out-going junkies, who do not miss any event, new restaurant and know a huge number of people. I pity the first ones and envy the second ones. God, it’s so frustrating sometimes to be in the middle.

I’ve met Dutch people that seem so alike me, that I honestly wondered why we don’t speak the same language. And some that are so different that seemed like aliens with weird eating habits and an obsession for planning everything.

I’ve met people with boring life stories, as well as ones with the most incredible backgrounds, who made me feel like an ant. People who have experienced being an expat for the first time and people who are already living in the 4th or 5th foreign country. I’ve encountered people born from mixt races, who married into another race, who were refugees, who traveled the world alone. Definitely I realized that the world has less and less boundaries.

Movies vs. series

But all these stories are like movies to me. 2 hours long films, that you see only once, or several times if they are really good, but you don’t get attached to them. I’m more of a series person. I like to fall in love with the characters, discover every angle of their personality, develop a long-term relationship with them, and see them every day.

I somehow did not get to the series level to almost anybody. Yes, I have a few people for whom I care about and with whom I can immediate get to a deeper level of conversation. But because they either have their own lives and/or live in different cities, it’s difficult to maintain the “series” level. Plus it’s the imminence of the end when you have a friend who’s also an expat. Expats usually leave to the next location. No earlier than last week I found out that one of the few people I feel connected to, leaves The Hague next year…

You don’t have the 2nd chance to make a good impression! Not if you’re an expat.

Another major reason for my tiredness is that I have to constantly introduce myself. It’s like I’m living in this repetitive dream, when all I do is tell the story of my life. I told it so many times that it doesn’t even feel like it belongs to me anymore. Because I don’t put my heart into it now. I get into an automatic pilot mood and start: “I’m from Romania, I came here x years ago, yes, it’s a nice experience so far, yes I’m working, not it wasn’t hard to transfer from the local business unit to the head office, why Netherlands, my husband got a job here… ”

It’s like I never go beyond that level. Even if I have a chemistry with a person at first, it seems such a huge effort to tell all he/she needs to know about me so I can finally have the conversation I want, that I give up.

Maybe I’m just getting old. Or maybe that’s the effect of being together with the person you love and already having the greatest friends back home: you actually don’t need more. Most of your new meetings are just superficial, introductory encounters.

Asocial or self-interested?

So this is how I started to develop this asocial behavior. Trust me, I was the most sociable, going-out, connection-keeping person. I often avoided staying alone, probably being too scared of what I would find if I spent more time with myself. Now I just prefer to stay home and watch TV on Saturdays. Series, of course.

I don’t know if it’s a just a phase. I’ve noticed that some of the people, who were basically nomads all their life, enjoy the solitude more than others. Although they have charming and sparking contributions when are in a middle of a group, there comes a moment when they prefer to avoid contact. I guess what being a serial expat teaches you not necessarily to be extra sociable, but to be self-sufficient (in the best possible meaning of the word).

So the good part is that I’m not afraid to spend time with myself anymore. As a conscious choice, that is. Maybe asocial is not the best word. Maybe self-interested is best.

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Julie is the editor of XpatGirls.com. She's a Romanian girl, stranded in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

For how long, she doesn't know yet. But what she does know is communication and psychology. already a bachelor in psychology, she is now also preparing to be a life coach. This is due to her genuine interest in people and the every day joy to be there for those who have questions about themselves. Working in communication for the last 4 years has helped her pursue the life-long dream of writing. But her secret love was and will always be painting, along with piano and shoes, because yes, every girl has her thing.

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