Monday, May 2, 2016

A Positive Me

Someone recently asked me if I'm anti-American and accused me of being pessimistic. That really came as a surprise to me, because I'm never been as genuinely happy in my life as I am now. For a long time I wanted to be a positive person, but stress really held me back. Living in Brazil, in a culture that values family and spending time together, and being able to be home with my kids every day has made a world of difference.

But don't think that my life is any easier here than in the States. In a lot of ways it is much, much more difficult. On Thursday it rained something fierce here. It started overnight while we were asleep, which means we hadn't plugged the sewage/water drains in our bathroom and rear patio. I awoke to my husband yelling my name. As I walked through the kitchen to the back patio where he was, I realized the floor was covered in water. I opened the door to see about half a foot of water flooding the patio. So we spent the rest of the night shoveling bucket after bucket of shitty water into the garden and any container we could find. But instead of being pissed off or feeling sorry for myself, I thought, "Well at least we didn't lose any property or people. Just get the job done and tomorrow is another day."

I've always had great endurance, whether it was long distance running (disclaimer: I've never been a fast runner, but I can run forever), ten years of military training, dealing with an ADD child, or moving halfway around the world to a third world country I'd never been to. But I've often trudged through things thinking, "Why me? When is it going to get easy for me? Why can't my life be like so-and-so's?" Something in me snapped and all that went away. I don't know if I can put a finger on exactly what prompted the change, but closing down my Facebook and deleting my Imgur and Reddit accounts went a long way into helping. Cutting out the constant negativity of anonymous internet assholes as well as the "picture perfect" people allowed me to refocus on myself and my family. I spent so much time immersed in a fake internet world that I'd lost sight of reality. I've become much more connected with the world by disconnecting myself from it.

And I have a theory that the most patriotic people are expats. Experiencing a completely different culture and lifestyle is the perfect foil to help one really understand and appreciate their own culture. Much in the way that disconnecting myself from the world allowed me to see it, "disconnecting" myself from the States has really allowed me to see it. I mean... do you truly and enthusiastically appreciate your clothes dryer and clean water? Or are they just there? When you purchase McDonalds do you eat it slowly, savoring each bite? Or do you scarf it down in the car because you've got stuff to do? Is a trip to Walmart a chore that you just have to get through or an exciting adventure because you can finally purchase peanut butter, which you haven't had in eight months? I love living in Brazil, but I miss a lot of things about the States. I appreciate American culture in a way that you can only appreciate when you don't have it. So if you hear me say things like "Americans are complaining about sharing a bathroom and Brazilians don't even have clean water #firstworldproblems," it's because I believe Americans should appreciate things rather than complaining about the silliness of the week. America is truly the "land of opportunity," so don't degrade it by arguing over petty issues. If your biggest gripe is that you don't want to share a bathroom with a transsexual, then you live a pretty amazing life. Recognize that.

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