Living in Lebanon – First 3 Months

The first three months – oh the highs and the lows.

I thought that I would write a post about my first three months living abroad in Lebanon. For those of you who don’t know about why I am here, please see this post, “We’re Moving to Lebanon.”

Recently Facebook created a custom post for me where they highlighted a group of pictures from this past spring (similar to the one above). The pictures included my mom and I during her visit to Pittsburgh, Zach and I when we first saw each other at the airport after 5 long weeks apart, me walking home from the flower market with a batch of flowers for my balcony here in Lebanon, Zach and I at a beach in Cyprus, and Zach and I posing on the Corniche in Beirut. The pictures are great and I remember being really happy in each of them but when I saw the post I got really emotional (sad, homesick, missing my family, etc). Those pictures just reminded me of home and of the monumental life change that Zach and I made with this move and our new jobs and the fact that I won’t come home (except for a visit), but actually to a home that I call my own, until April of 2019.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy with this decision. There are many things that I love about my life here. Like all the fresh produce,  the view of the sea, track workouts with Zach, the team of MCC workers that I have the pleasure of being a part of, ALL of the people at the health clinic and offices that I work with, Lebanese meze, the mountains and hiking in them, and the fact that Zach is happier with his job than any job he has ever had and he feels truly fulfilled in the work that he does. This is a lot to love and I try to constantly remind myself of how blessed I am to be here, but I still have moments, like the FB one, when I just can’t keep it together.

So please allow me to be completely honest with where I am in my cultural transition: I really miss home, my culture, my language, the efficiency of America, being able to spend money without recording every penny (or lira in my case), being able to spend money on clothing and non-essentials without feeling like I am draining my savings, my friends and family (my sister is pregnant and I won’t see the baby in person until he is well over a year old plus my mom has a big birthday coming up), my routine (this is a BIG one), my profession, good AC, and in general my old life.

I have been told by Zach that this is just a normal part of making a new life in a country that is not your own (he went through a rough transition as well, but struggled with different things), and I know that I am not the only ex-pat that has gone through the same emotions. But for real – what is happening to me? I am an efficient, motivated, optimistic person that MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. But lately, I have really been struggling with my purpose and my motivation and I just feel like a failure. The question of the month for me is, “God, why am I here?”

Along with the additional questions that I ask myself all day long…

What exactly are my job responsibilities? How can I learn Arabic faster? How can I connect with the local group of dietitians? Is there a cost-effective gym that I can go to? (nope) What is the cost to attend a fitness class? (too much) What can I do to make my grocery bill smaller? Will I get to use my training as a dietitian at some point? Why can’t I access Target’s website? Why do taxis honk at you so much? How do you convert grams into cups? (as I try to make homemade bread). What does that acronym mean? (referring to the hundreds of acronyms that NGO’s and expats use and just assume that you know). Am I being helpful at work or do people just spend all their time interpreting for me? And on and on…..

These questions overwhelm me to the point where I find myself extremely emotionally fragile and volatile (example: FB post tears). Thank God for Zach:/

I hope this phase of transition won’t last too much longer and I am sorry to burden you with my troubles. I imagine that everyone at some point in their life goes through a time when they don’t know what the heck they are doing. If this is you right now – I feel ya. Stay strong, don’t be afraid to cry sad and angry tears. Try to slow yourself down and realize that you don’t need to be productive to bring joy to others and yourself. Give yourself time and grace to figure out your life and what God has planned for you. All these things I say to not only you, but myself as well.

~The Optimist