Life Is Not Always All Sunshine
Even though I’m so in love with living in California, there was a time when my life wasn’t all sunshine and beaches. It happened in early 2014. I came home after a four week trip from Europe. I am usually excited to come back after a vacation, but that time was different. I still don’t understand why, but I fell into a deep hole; a very deep hole.
I realized it a couple days after I had arrived. I wasn’t eager to see anyone or meet friends. I didn’t feel like going out or being active. I didn’t work out at all. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and be left alone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone- in person, on the phone, or via Skype. I tried to keep up a straight face when I was around my roommate. I didn’t want to become a burden to anyone.
The only thing that gave me a little bit of joy during that time was my roommate’s dog, who I loved to death. She was allowed to stay in my room with me anytime, and I liked to take her on strolls. At least I got some fresh air.
During this time, I started studying at California State University, Fullerton. While I was excited at the beginning of the semester, I soon started to see school as a burden. I managed to show up to my classes and do the required homework. But I didn’t want to get involved with people. I basically showed up shortly before class started, so I didn’t have to talk to anyone, and left right after. I didn’t care about getting involved in school clubs and organizations.
Then, end of February 2014, I had four girlfriends from Germany coming to visit me. I hoped that their visit would help me to get out of my funk. And for a short while, it did. Thanks to short trips to Las Vegas and San Francisco, I got a little bit distracted. But once my girls left to travel back to Europe my deep hole welcomed me again with open arms.
I was deeply missing my friends in Europe, who have known me for many years, while I was still building up friendships in the U.S. I was also still working on moving on from my relationship with the American guy who I met in Germany. Those were just some of the things that took a toll on me. So I continued with the “lifestyle” I started practicing the previous weeks- staying in my room the majority of time.
In late March, I had a trip planned to visit my best friend in Dallas. I was staying out there over Spring Break, helping my friend and her husband with the move into their new house. At least, I could be helpful. I had a really good week in Dallas. We had some much needed girl time, and she introduced me to the guy who finally helped me getting over my ex. Even though it was just flirting and he was living in Texas while I was in California, it showed me that there were other guys out there I actually found attractive.
But once I headed back to Orange County- well, you kind of guessed it: same thing happened, no motivation, no thrive. I was getting really worried and wanted to figure out a way to get out of it. Then, I realized, that one of my good girlfriends from High School, who lives in England, went through such a stage in her life as well. She had actually been diagnosed with depression. I didn’t want to think that I was depressive, but I wanted to get her advice anyways. We talked a long time via Skype. It was really, really helpful.
The next day, I decided to do something for myself. I went to get my hair as well as my nails done. And, as silly that might sound, it helped. I felt better about myself. Shortly after, I decided to join a meetup group, just to meet some more like minded people who were interested in more than just drinking and going out to the bars. Little did I know by that time that through this group I gained some really great new friends, who I am still hanging out with at least once week.
I was still very cautious of my feelings, but my life definitely improved for the better. I think I was mostly relieved that I didn’t need any professional help to get out of this. I swore myself to never get back into this stage, and to enjoy life to the fullest from that point on. And so I did.
Image: © Anne-Kathrin Schulte
Anne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.
Frank Y. Goishi says
Yes, thank you…We all go through the ups and downs of life, unfortunately, most of the times by ourselves. It’s truly a blessing when we find out what’s ‘truly’ affecting us and can make the changes necessary to move on. Yep, Germany is not the United States, and the United States is not Germany. Both are very far from each other, and I don’t mean in distance. The people are very different, the culture and norms are so far from one another…It’s a wonder how you and other ex-patriots have adapted so well to this land and its people. Oh, well, thanks for letting me spout off. It’s my way of coping with my issues as well. Keep up the writing. That’s one of the best forms of self-actualization…
Anne-Kathrin Schulte says
I totally agree with you, Frank. To me, writing is kind of therapy, and most of the time I good way to just let things go. It doesn’t necessarily need to be public, but even writing a journal can be a huge relief. And please, always feel free to spout off :). I love getting feedback and hear reader’s experiences. When I first moved out here, I wanted to step back on the plane to go back to Europe, but I made it through. I didn’t know anyone; I had no idea how people find an apartment or a car. I had to figure it out all myself, but I did, and it made me a lot stronger than I used to be.
Thank you again so much for your words!
All the best to you!
Hi Anne-Kathrin, thanks for sharing your thought about what was obviously the re-entry blues that many of us have to deal with every time we visit home and then return to the US, in our case to California. I deal with this every single time and even right now, since we just got back about 2 weeks ago. And the re-entry blues can be sneaky! I had projects planned, met friends, got my kids ready for school, but it still gets to you. Anyway, there are very helpful tools that can help you get over it if you’d ever face it again. Here is my post https://coellefornia.me/2016/03/02/re-entry-blues/ and this is some good advice from an Sundae Schneider-Bean, an Intercultural Coach based in South Africa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub5J0EHyzrQ
Anne-Kathrin Schulte says
Thank you so much for your kind words! It is always nice to hear from experiences from other expats and get advice.