Finding Happiness Where You Are

I have previously alluded to the challenges of living here as an American. Where I live, on the outskirts of Naples, the country is frozen in time in many ways. Many or most women do not work. They are expected to have children and stay home and raise their children, cook, clean and care for the house. Most do not seem to form friendships outside of the relationships they have with their extended families, often a sister or sister-in-law is the closest friend. The society can be very closed and difficult for an outsider to enter and make friendships. Friends are your backbone, your community, especially when you live away from your family and when it is nearly impossible to form these friendships, life can feel very isolating.

I have made friends with other expats, but none are close enough to just stop by for a cup of coffee or meet for lunch. I have worked in schools closer to home, but the women who work in the schools in my area, are essentially products of their environments, not looking for friends more than they already have. I was also treated like an outsider because of the language barrier and was given very little confidence in my work and abilities by my Italian counterparts.

The school I began working for this past month and will continue to work at in September employs other only native English speakers or women who speak English fluently. Most of these women have spent time outside of Italy and are open minded as well. We share the same goals. Going back to the school was like a breath of fresh air. Fresh air to get out of the small town on the wrong side of Mt.Vesuvius, fresh air to talk with others, fresh air to be accepted into a community.

When I started working I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do it “all”, “all” being cleaning and caring for the house, caring for my children and working. At first I was annoyed with this very typical response from a society that values women staying at home with showroom pristine houses. I decided to take it as a challenge though, I can do it all. On top of those “women” responsibilities, I have been working on a business degree which still has weekly assignments and research projects. I began to listen to podcasts and watch YouTube channels of women who do it “all” for motivation. I woke up earlier, I bought a new planner and time blocked my schedule, I spent my long commute listening to motivating and empowering podcasts about women who want to do it “all”. It has been life changing, my grades in my online courses actually went up from the grades I had when I wasn’t working!

Take the time each to be grateful and reflect on what you are grateful for and what you can do to be happy.

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