I’ve been living in Paris now for more than 6 months. The reasons that made me leave my country were multiple: lack of intellectual stimulus, feeling of getting stuck in a career path too soon, uninteresting professional landscape and way too much memories everywhere. After six months, my mind is a bit clogged and need some relief to structure things a bit.
On this part I must say that I got everything that I expected. My career evolved in the most interesting way and at an incredible pace those last months, and the coming months promise interesting challenges I couldn’t expect to find in Belgium. It seems that in order to evolve you have to break things and dare to jump. While it has been a bit frightening, I’m really happy with the results.
Concerning the French professional world, things are quite different. I think the main part is how much the personal side affects work and how everything is tied to human relationships (and no clear division between work and its producer). From time to time I have the feeling of being stuck in a Game of Thrones episode, which isn’t quite pleasant as I’m usually the kind of person that tend to avoid conflict when it’s unnecessary and who try to be honest. Politics and powerplay makes navigating into the French professional landscape quite strange.
Colleagues & friends
While I always thought myself as more of an introvert, I discovered that I needed people around me way more than I thought. And on this side I’ve been quite lucky, the people have met until here, mainly thanks to my work and social networks have been both intellectually challenging and profoundly humans. I discovered tremendous people and some of them already play a big part in my life and in the span of 6 months became really important for me, some of them I can really call close friends. I’ve also discovered friends with whom I can be totally myself, without any needs for barriers or anything, which felt quite as a relief when I lived most of my life using a fake self persona to go through social life.
However, there’s a dark side to this. While work helped me to connect easily with people in an interesting way, I found the way people behave here in Paris quite strange. I tried to connect outside my circle but always felt that you somehow need to gain the right to talk to some people. After some time trying to engage into unilateral conversations, I decided to dedicate my time to my friends here and colleague and avoid some areas (I’ll develop).
Gay places, apps and lgbt life in general
I’ve always had troubles getting into the LGBT life, and wrote quite a lot about it. But after some years of trying, I’ve decided to take some radical decisions and cut the ties with anything related to it. I’ve deleted both the dating apps (which helped me rebuild my self esteem and personal energy) and quit the LGBT associations I was part of.
The main reasons were both the fact that I didn’t felt I needed to keep on trying to have conversations where I had to gain some divine right to talk to the person. In fact, I was exhausted to always be the one leading the discussion without any feedback. This hit me after meeting a friend’s friend for the 4th time and when he realized he didn’t knew a single thing about me… because he never returned any answer.
The second reason was the perpetual drama. As I said I hate conflict, especially unnecessary conflict. I couldn’t take anymore the relationships drama going all around, keeping in mind who wanted to talk to who, who was deadly enemy and things like that.
This also lead me to leave my main Twitter account and focus on my professional one. Since then I feel like I’m able to breath and feel generally better about myself.
Rebuilding a social circle
With all this I’ve rebuilt a social circle of what I consider to be people both intellectually challenging but also benevolent people. Being with them makes me grow, evolve and learn. And I’m assured that any drama coming my way won’t be unnecessary but something that requires time, dedication and help to grow.
I’ve taken steps to remove all the toxic people from my life, but also the people who hurt me even not willingly. I have enough good and close friends to keep on hurting myself.
I’ve deleted the apps to give myself a bit of breath but also because I realized several things. The first one is that the reason that make me synchronize with a human being are quite blurry, and hard to define. This lead to a lot of search on the dating apps to find those special people I could connect to. But spending a lot of time on those apps takes a deadly toll: self esteem destruction, constant comparison toward society ideals, rejection, … The fact was that I was investing a lot of time on those for maybe 1% return of investment. Not a great idea.
The second reason was that I realized I needed time for myself. The previous years haven’t been kind on the sentimental level and I was barely able to stand up again. While I think I have a lot to offer, it’s time also for me to meet someone who’s ready to invest into a relationship as much as I am. I realized that those things would come in time, but that now, I didn’t have any energy left, nor the capacity to handle another failure. I can accept to welcome things as they come, but can’t invest in this area of my life all by myself at the moment.
In contradiction, I’ve realized that I was ready for someone to enter my life. While it’s still healing, my heart finally stopped aching. I’m still in defensive mode, so the next one will have some battles to fight, but still, I’m ready to accept someone for who he’s and not because I’m in pain. And that’s quite an evolution. The thing I expect from a soulmate became also quite precise which helped me quite a lot.
The next steps
I thought I’d stay 5 years here, but reconsidering some parts (mainly how the society works and things I’ve expressed here), I think I’d switch to 3 years then see another place. I realized there was much to discover still and places to go, and I’m too eager to stay in some place I don’t really love.
I wanted to tackle a master in management, but I realized that this was important only for the French society. The competences I’ve gained and will gain in the coming months will be more valuable than any paper I could gain, and the financial and time costs would be way too heavy for what I could gain. There are other ways to evolve that will suit me better, so I’m still giving me sometime to think about.
And that’s aaaall for the moment.
P.S. : Thanks to Yoan for this idea, it indeed helps a lot.