I have a theory. I actually have lots of theories, but I’m passionate about this one.
Have you really ever thought about the similarities between expats and dandelions? I bet you haven’t. Most people only see dandelions as pesky annoyances – lawn pimples, rather than the masters of survival they genuinely are. Expats, specifically Accompanying Supportive Spouses (ASS for short, as I don’t use the term ‘trailing spouse’ around here), have many the same characteristics as dandelions.
I’m sure you’ve seen dandelions growing happily on the side of the road, which is pretty awesome. Dandelions are resilient little buggers. Even in the worst conditions, they spring up and flourish out of nowhere. No thanks to the wind that sent its seed floating in the air until it landed in the shittiest place it could find – rocky gravel riddled earth unsuitable for life. Let’s be real, roses don’t radiate on the hard shoulder. Every part of a dandelion has a purpose. From root to flower, they can be food or medicine. Yup, these lemon-yellow bundles of joy are pretty damn cool.
Okay, now let’s imagine an expat ASS. She is shipped off to a completely unknown land, far away from everything and everyone she knows. She is told to figure out how to embed herself into a completely new environment – new country, new language, new culture, and new rules. Sure the start might seem like a fun adventure – that is until the everyday life kind of stuff kicks in. The Insta-perfect images she posts hide her crying in the post office while attempting to pick up a package and being scolded by the neighbor in a language she doesn’t understand. She is out of her comfort zone and craves her old life back home, where she felt capable and confident. In other words, she used to nail it. She used to be a badASS.
Only our ASS doesn’t ‘go back home.’ She pushes through. She doesn’t give up because it’s not an option. She perseveres because she’s got people (her husband, his company and her kids) depending on her to get it right. She feels pressure from every angle to be perfect and happy, but it’s so fucking hard. Most of the time, she feels like she’s failing because her confidence got lost somewhere in transit, and she’s not sure who she is anymore. But our ASS has grit – just like the dandelion. She doesn’t yet realize that while she can’t speak to the butcher with a vocabulary more extensive than a toddler’s, she is rooting herself into life abroad and doing her god damn best to flourish in a place that isn’t ideal. It might not be gravel, but it sure feels sometimes like her foreign home is giving her the cold shoulder.
This is My Dandelion Theory or MDT for short. MDT means proudly waving your freak flag when you’re nothing but a scared and lonely fish out of water swimming upstream daily. MDT means not giving in to the idea of taking the easy way out but choosing the road less traveled instead. It’s making mistakes and finding the funny in a life worth living when it’s far from what you ever could have imagined. That is being a #BadASS.
I’ve worked extremely hard to finally feel this way about myself. Right now, my big project is writing a book to inspire and encourage other ASSes to recognize the significance of their value in expat life and beyond.
You may ask why I think I’m capable of writing a book about this topic. Well, I’ll tell you… Because I live it every damn day. Being a BadASS is what I do. It’s what I eat, breathe and sleep. I’m the one people ask if it’s okay to give my number to a newbie or their friend who’s moving overseas. I’m the one that won’t lie and tell you it’s going to all be okay because sometimes it really bites, and you need to be ready for it. I’m the one who’s felt like nothing but the wife of a hotshot exec. I’m the one who works my manicured nails to the bone without any of the glory. And for a long time, I was the one who did it with a smile on my face to camouflage my resent. But, I’m also the one who no longer feels this way. I’ve got a lot of expat life experience, and I want to help other ASSes embrace their inner BadASS and take control of their expat life before it goes off course.
I hope you will continue on this journey with me to create a global community of BadASSes Abroad. A place to engage in real conversation and share raw emotion without any judgment. A space where we can lift each other up when we are feeling lost and alone and where we cheer the shit out of the wins when one comes our way. BadASSery is ours for the taking; let’s go get it.