Written by Vicki van Eegham
Have you even seen a snow globe?
Those beautiful glass balls that are often filled with a perfect wintry scene and water. It captures a still moment where all seems calm until it is up-ended and shaken vigorously by a force of hand that turns the inside of that globe into chaos and often distorts the image.
I have many times felt that my life is like a snow globe since moving to Eindhoven. There have been times where it felt “picture-perfect” and then with the slightest change in my circumstances, confusion ensued. Often this has left me feeling lost, bewildered, worried and most of all sad. I found myself questioning why was I here and how am I going to fix this by myself? The key word in that last sentence was myself. I didn’t want others to know that my life wasn’t perfectly fabulous here. I didn’t want to admit to feeling like a failure or lonely or god forbid that I needed to be dependent upon someone else. I didn’t want people to know that with every job rejection, difficulties with learning Dutch or being unable to visit my family, these were causing me to feel depressed. I would get angry often at my husband because it was easier to yell at him then to admit I needed his help or that I was hurting. The times that I would leave the house, I would paint a smile on my face and be the life of the party but deep inside I felt alone and was crying. In those moments of disarray, I was plagued by insecurities and overwhelmed by situations that, at that moment in time, I felt I couldn’t change or had no control over. This was hard to accept. That there were situations that I couldn’t change. Rather that I couldn’t change at that moment but that wasn’t to say that down the road things couldn’t change. What I had to start with was changing myself and my perspective.
What do I mean? It is not easy but I have had to learn that although something may happen that disrupts my “picture-perfect life”, it is how I respond to it that must change. I need to (work in progress!) continue to learn how to adjust my expectations and change my outlook so that I can move forward and focus on the positive things in my life. How can I do this? Well for starters by reaching out to others. Talking about my struggles, my insecurities or my fears doesn’t make me weaker, instead it empowers me to focus on how I can become stronger and most importantly how much I have already grown. By talking with people who feel the same or who have similar experiences to what I have gone through, helps combat the feeling of being alone in my struggles.
It is important for me to also share with you what I believe is vital for survival in a new surrounding or situation: asking for help. I mentioned above that I would get angry at my husband because I felt dependent on him for survival here. Well I was dependent on him and to an extent I still am. That was and is difficult for me because I have always been independent. My husband, because he is Dutch, had to become my everything, especially in the first few years. He was/is the chief bread-winner, the chauffeur and the interpreter. I lost the perspective that he too had to take on a role he wasn’t used to and that caused his own challenges. But with every victory I have had, he has shared in it as well. Whether it is learning Dutch, passing the Inburgeringsexam or finding a job… I couldn’t have done it without his support and his help. I also could not have done it without asking for help from others besides my family. I stress to you that asking for help was not easy and something I actually had to learn because like many of you, I grew up hearing the phrase “asking for help makes you weak”. Sorry but this is not true! Asking for help is brave and requires a lot of strength. Never be afraid to say you need help because we all need it.
Now my life will continue to still have its moments of being befuddled but just as the snow globe, as the snow stops swirling and the scene starts coming back into clarity, things will fall into place. I just need to remember that I can get through another “storm” and will come out stronger, braver and more empowered than I was yesterday, last year and before I moved to Eindhoven. And so, will you.
With the beginning of 2017 ahead I look forward to sharing in more stories with all of you and most importantly encouraging each other that we are not alone but actually we are all in this together.