Monday, February 4, 2013


There is an unspoken competition where I live, where I visit, where I walk.  It has taken me some time to sort out what I was feeling. Many weeks ago "it" came together for me; Now that it has, my eyes are wide open.  What does it look like you ask?

What I share is specific to my experiences relocating. While it may allude to expats only, these things really can happen anywhere you may relocate. Your senses are heightened during certain situations, relocating is one of them. Everything is fresh and new. You notice things more. Eventually, I am told, situations, things, people will just start to blend in.  I pray when they do, I am still sensitive to those around me.

Not everyone is genuine. They smile and say hello to your face, but the moment they turn around they want nothing more to do with you. Or, like this morning, with eye contact I smiled and said  "hello" to someone I know and who knows me, but they looked at me and kept walking. There is little to no interest in getting to know you. Many have their guard up. Some want to know who your husband is and what he does. Who does he work for?  Some want to know you based on who he is. What do you have to offer me? Do you provide a stepping stone for them? There are those that go out of their way to avoid you. There are those who name drop people, stores and places. Where have you lived before ( and judgements of you based on those places). Do you have a car and driver? Where do you live? 

It is mind boggling to me the attitudes and judgements of others.  It is all based on perception.  What is so interesting to me is many of the expats could not afford to live where they do if their company weren't paying the rent for them.  This affords the expat to have second homes in lands far away.  Yet I am judged for not living within certain gates (To my face). As some judge me for choosing not to have a car and driver, they sit behind a glass window as the driver takes them about town, allowing them to judge further the city in which they live.  They proclaim to know a lot about the city (whether they have been here6 months or years) yet they have never stepped foot in the metro, bus or trolley.  Expats judge the unhappiness of Muscovites. The lack of smiles. Yet do they know why? Have they experienced it? Have they lived it?  (Side note: stereotypically, Russians are not known to be friendly. This is not true!  with the exception of two minor instances, the locals have been unbelievably kind and friendly. I am constantly surprised. A gentleman saw me this weekend trying to "get away" from an obnoxious Ded Moroz. He came up and asked if I needed help. I did not, but I felt safe and well cared for, by a stranger.) 

My nature is not to be competitive. If I compete, I compete with myself.  Achieving success for me is the result of pushing myself harder allowing me to see results and expand my boundaries.  I am a genuine person. My heart guides my way.  I try very hard not to judge. I do not care if you live in a mansion or on the street, what car you drive or
 how much is in your bank account. It can be difficult at times to be on the receiving end of this competition.  It requires me to be guarded....and there lies my first assimilation, where it all starts to blend.

I will not lie. Moscow is not an easy place to live. There is a battle to be fought every day. How big the battle is and whether you choose to fight it, is up to you. 
This battle of fake smiles and walking by without so much as a word...not my battle. I am a lover, not a fighter. My gloves are off and arms wide open. 

Expats live in a bubble. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, many times it is nice! Expat life can be very isolating. It is Your  peace and comfort in unfamiliar situations.  Life is difficult enough as it is without judging and competing with one another.  I just have one question.....

What are we competing for?

For clarification....the "it" that took me some time to figure out is not the attitudes of others, but the unspoken competition. People are rude, inconsiderate, boastful in any walk of life. It is the competition in your face within the Expat bubble that is the "it."


Clare Taylor said...

Great post - and good question! I think it's one of the hardest things - not to give a damn about the judgements others make about you - but believe me (and I think I've said this to you before, so sorry for repeating myself), it makes life so much easier when you can just ignore their blinkered views.

Cren Sullivan said...

I LOVE this post! I can relate having lived over seas but also from the move back stateside. I love your tongue-in-cheek writing style and the way you say it like it is. I think the truth you are speaking here is awesome as there are many people who never get to break out of their little world to see the world at large. There's nothing wrong with that, just that they have a smaller world view. I agree with Clare. It is wise for us to remember that what others think of us is none of our business. We have been friends for many years now and I know who you are and I wouldn't trade you for anything. If there are people out there who don't realize what a treasure it is to have you in their lives then it says more about them than it does about you. You are one of the most kind-hearted, loving people I know. Negative people will read this and only see it in a negative view. Anyone who knows the real you will take it for what it is ... a blog about expat life's challenges and joys. I LOVE reading your blog posts. So many times they make me laugh. You make people feel, Mrs. Munchkin!!! There are too many people out there that just don't care if they hurt someone's feelings. They are really damaged people. You look at the world with all of its wonder and try to figure out how you can make it better one person at a time. Miss you. Love you!