When I first got here, I was in the "OOH and AHHH Oyibo" stage when I was wide eyed and couldn't believe what I saw around me. I was a little scared and actually tried to make a schedule to stick to. I wanted to give money to everyone I saw around me, and I couldn't imagine even opening a box of pasta that had bugs in it or eating anything beyond the expiration date...I felt lost alot those first months and that judgement of myself kept creeping up on me....."How could you even think you could survive here??"
Then, after a few months, I moved onto the "Giddy Get Involved" stage. This stage can be the most dangerous. I wanted to get out and meet people. I didn't want to be stuck on the compound. I was out joining lots of clubs and volunteering for lots of different things. I had and still have a great nanny/ cook/ stewardess who could help me with the kids. And somehow I felt that I could make that voice inside me saying " I can't believe you moved here." go away. I was just too freaking busy to even hear anything during that year. It was fun...but I am glad I wrote about it on the blog because I honestly wouldn't remember a lot of it during that last part of my first year and early on the second year if I hadn't written it down.
Last year I think I entered into the" fed up" stage. Things started to lose their luster. Certain things about living here were really starting to get to me (traffic, lying, bribing, maintenance,etc.) and I realized I just had to cut back on some things I was volunteering for. I was burning the candle at both ends and I didn't want to be so tired at the end of the day that my kids were driving me insane. ( After all, I am supposed to be an expat wife, right? No one told me that all those volunteer hours could actually feel like a full time job! Even when you have a nanny.) I decided to focus on one or two things to really try to help in ways I thought (and still do) feel are important.:)
Now, I think I am in the "Free to Be" stage. I feel like I have slowed down a little. I've learned that it's okay to say "no" to things (not just when I don't have the time....but even when I really just don't feel like doing it.) I am happy with the volunteer work I'm doing, and I am enjoying this time here not feeling like I am trying to throw myself into something else. I can fully see that just because I am in a country on the other side of the ocean, people are really just the same. They want the same thing...to be loved, appreciated and cared for. I just didn't realize when I was freaking out before moving here that I would eventually learn to appreciate new cultures and new people from all over the world. And, most importantly, that judgmental voice in my head stopped telling me " I can't believe you thought you could survive here." to " You are surviving here, and you've survived here for almost three years."
I started writing this blog for my friends and family at home (with the help of my friend, Carolanne, who set it up initially for me) whom I knew were worried about us being over here on the other side of the ocean. But, I think it ended up being more of a place of reflection for me. A place where I could go back to and reassure myself that I can do this, and I have done it.
On Friday, I received an email from one of the founders of InterNations.org ( a worldwide expat website) telling me that he had stumbled across my blog about Nigeria and he actually thought my blog was really interesting. (I was dumbfounded), and he would like to feature it on their website (seriously???) I never really considered what I was writing about as "being good". I was just writing so I wouldn't forget. Who knew someone (I didn't even know) would actually like it??? The blog link to Nigeria hasn't been set up yet on InterNations, but it will be soon. He sent me a questionnaire to fill out about my experiences as being an expat and the last question on the questionnaire asked me to sum up my expat life in Nigeria in one "catchy" sentence. So, here is my life over the last two years summed up in one sentence:
"Life in Lagos, Nigeria has been a frustrating, exhilarating, heart-breaking, time-of-your-life adventure that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."
I guess that about sums up my life over the last two and half years......and I definitely wouldn't trade it for anything.:)