If you don’t already know who you are and what you do best in life, don’t move abroad... Unless you're prepared to do some serious soul-searching. This is my ultimate advice as I approach the end of my first month living in Denmark. If you move away from your current life, however you feel about it, you will be stuck with just you for many long hours of questioning what the heck just happened. If you don’t already know the answer, you’re in for a lot of sleepless nights as well.
The best way to discover who "you" are is to be alone... the best way to be alone is to move an unfathomable distance away from who you were. Someplace where you know pretty much no one, know pretty much nothing and then throw in another language you’ll be the loneliest you’ve ever been ever… and then the questions come. Questions you’ve never had the time or the silence to ask yourself.
I left California thinking I knew who I was and what I can do in this world and I discovered that there’s a lot about me I didn’t know. Like how far can I take a single idea? How long can I stay awake without any rest? How much can I struggle with a language before it gives me a headache? How many job applications can I get turned down from before I start to look for any work just to have some kind of income? How many photos of the dark, grey skies can I see on Instagram before I want to shake someone and ask “do you even want people to come here?!” How many coffees can I drink before getting woozy? Even as I write this, I can feel the loneliness in my tone. Don’t let it worry you, it’s just me figuring out who I am.
Artists see things and feel things differently. We take things in directions not necessarily meant for the crazy rejection of life that comes with trying to be a working artist. If you are an artist and you don’t yet know what I’m talking about, you will one day. It’s nothing to be afraid of and it’s no reason to quit, but it is what it is and you have to go through it with the rest of us. Some of us go through it our whole lives only to be met at the pearly gates just before “it” happens… some of us go through it for a single day and can't go any further. Neither option is better, neither option is worse… it just is.
So, I’ve been asked to write again how things are going now that the end of my first month has almost come to a close… to tell you what it’s been like and how I feel. And much like I can’t really tell you why being married to my husband is better than when we were just dating or what it’s like to have a child… I can’t really tell you what it feels like to be here and living this life.
Right now I want to say “it sucks, don't do it” because I had a long day and I’m still living off my meager savings a whole month later… But tomorrow something wonderful will happen that will make me change my mind… and if not tomorrow, Wednesday. That’s the part about doing this that’s so hard to explain. I’ve got Expat Bi-polar and I have no idea what I’ll feel like just a few days or even hours from now… I’ll still be figuring it out.
I want to blame Denmark for my bad days, that’s true. My bruised and battered self-esteem from the insanely competitive job market makes me just need to yell at someone, ANYONE! Because it’s truly forbidden within yourself to blame the person that’s really at fault… you. I want to be like, “DENMARK! Are you blind?! I’m amazing, look at my work!” But Denmark is looking at my work and loving my work, it’s not their fault that I cant yet find a way to capitalize on that love. It’s photography… There’s no mystical corporate job out there that will employ me to do nothing but take photos all day and hand me my salary. It’s a hustle, it will always be a hustle. If someone is saying otherwise, they’re not being honest with you.
But like my new friend said to me over the weekend, there’s a lesson to be learned and I have to learn it. There’s a step in my life that needed to be taken and I freaking took it… Maybe it seems like I could have avoided it in hindsight but, eventually, I would have had to figure out how to take that leap and how to crawl out of the hole should I miss and fall. I had to come out on the other side, regardless of how I got there. The other side, for whatever reason, is Denmark.