Lonely, Abroad

Photo Courtesy of meghla_akashe_pori_;) ; Flickr


As I write this, I’m spending yet another Friday night sitting in bed alone with a clay mask, eating veggie straws. I can’t sleep and these restless nights have become a pattern. See, a few weeks ago I got a job, in Dubai of all places. It all happened so fast—submitting my application, interviewing (twice), signing my contract. This is supposed to be exciting, right? I’m about to complete my dream fellowship and now have a great position that will allow me to continue living abroad. I’m so thankful, yet I can’t sleep and although I don’t often admit it, it’s from fear—the fear of having to deal with more loneliness while being abroad.

You see, up until now I’ve thought of myself as being some fearless. I don’t have a fear of dying and have (mostly) come to accept rejection (applying for jobs and fellowships and one unexpected break up really helped move that process along). I’ve never really feared pain so I’ve welcomed tattoos and piercings as creative forms of expression. And I’ve always embraced the unknown—it’s what has made my little travels and adventures so fulfilling.

But the reality is that living abroad, while cool and adventurous can be very lonely. Not like the loneliness that you felt when you return home for summer break to find that all your friends had left, or the loneliness that you sometimes felt in college when you had tons of work, but all your other friends were taking a trip. The type of loneliness I am talking about is consuming and alienating. I sit up at night reflecting on how I’m in a country that’s not my own surrounded by great people – but often feel alone because they don’t really know me. They do not understand why I miss hot Cheetos so much, or why I get frustrated when they don’t recognize me after changing my hairstyle. I’m constantly having to explain myself and it gets tiring.

I can’t sleep because even though I haven’t admitted it out loud, I am so afraid. I am afraid of having these feelings of loneliness in the coming months as I move to another country, as I go back to getting lost despite using Google Maps, as I return to being the new girl. But, of course, at the end of the day I must remember that this is normal—that my fear of being alone is normal. This loneliness that I am feeling is just one of the many realities of post- grad life and starting anew. I might feel this way for a few more hours or even for a few days. There’s no magic cure for what I’m feeling, but I have no other choice than to stick it out because these feelings don’t last forever.

So here it is—cheers to loneliness, to new beginnings, and whatever else the future holds.



Nana wrote this piece for Flux, a forum for those of us encountering adulthood. She is just another 20 something trying to put off Grad. school. Nana loves traveling, food, and might be addicted to shopping


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