This Isn’t Real Life


foreign service life, expat life, el salvador beach, efm working, efm careerI love getting feedback on my blog. If I pretended I wrote it just for myself, I would be lying. I like getting comments — on the blog itself and on Facebook — and “likes.” Sometimes the comments are about how much fun it looks like I’m having or what a cool life I have.And while I agree that living abroad as part of a Foreign Service family is a very unique and wonderful experience, I feel somewhat disingenuous portraying my life as a never-ending series of awesome.The thing about blogging is that it’s the highlights reel, not real life. It’s like Facebook. It’s not really a diary of everything I did today or my deepest, darkest thoughts. No one really cares about that. It’s a mix of fun things Kail and I do, funny things that happen to me and some thoughts and observations about life in El Salvador/in the Foreign Service world.I go to work for eight hours a day like everyone else. I go grocery shopping. I get stuck in traffic and want to gouge my eyes out. I sometimes struggle to fit in my training runs — or motivate myself to exercise at all — and maintain lose weight. I often feel awkward and out of place at work, or in social settings, or just walking around town (especially when people yell Chinita! at me). I read the Game of Thrones series because it’s totally normal and cool to read fantasy fiction. It is — trust me.And while I do think my life is amazing and I’m grateful for everything I have, there are less-than-awesome moments. I don’t write about those as much. Or if I do, I write about them later, after I’ve had some time to process my anger/anxiety/sadness/other negative emotion and I can look upon the situation with a more objective eye.I don’t write about problems at work. I don’t write about the difficulties of adjusting to married life, period, let alone married life in the Foreign Service. I don’t write about how I have gained back some weight that I worked really hard to lose in 2011-12, and how it has been even harder to lose it again/stop gaining more (damn those pupusas!). I don’t write about feeling lonely, worrying about making friends or wondering whether this life is a good fit for me.I don’t write about them because they are personal stories and in some cases, they aren’t just my stories to tell.I also don’t want to be unappreciative. I want to cherish each moment we have — here at our first post in El Salvador, at our final post and when we return to “normal” life back in Washington, DC — whether that’s during a trip to a new city or a trip to the grocery store.I don’t want to lose that sense of incredulity and wonder I had when I first arrived, like Holy $#*@ I live in El Salvador!Most importantly, I want to remember that I am blessed, that my heart is full, that in my life is an abundance of love, freedom and opportunity. So I choose to put a positive spin on things, to share photos of beautiful places, to skip a rant about that a-hole who cut me off.This blog isn’t a journal, but it is an exercise in processing my feelings into coherent thoughts through writing. Just know that for every fun adventure I write about, there’s an uneventful day, a disagreement with someone or a car scraped on a pole in the grocery store parking lot (true story) that I doesn’t get published.For you bloggers and writers out there, how do you choose what to share with readers?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

10 thoughts on “This Isn’t Real Life

  1. Well put. I think you have been positive and upbeat about your new life and all the experiences you’ve had. I think you’ve managed to be honest while keeping your privacy and positive outlook!


    1. Thanks! I actually had been thinking about writing a post about this for a while, but after I talked to you it really came together. I feel like it is disingenuous to pretend every day of my life is trips and good food and sunshine (although it is the dry season and sunny pretty much all day right now) and happiness.


  2. I think it’s always good to be reminded that what we see on Facebook or blogs is not a full picture of someone’s life. It can be easy sometimes to compare yourself with others or idealize their lives but we are only seeing part of the picture. Everyone has good days and bad days, blessings and challenges. It reminds me of that quote (attributed to many different people): “Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”P.S. I have also scraped my car on a pole in a grocery store parking lot. You are not alone!


    1. I always compare myself to other people — in real life and in digital life (i.e. Facebook, blogs, etc.). I try not to write too negatively because no one likes a Debbie Downer but then I felt like I was presenting this skewed version of things. I certainly have more things to be grateful for than to complain about, so I just try to focus on those! But yes, we all have our grocery-store-pole moments.


    1. I miss you! We need to FaceTime. That is one thing I have been really bad at, just talking to people in general. A lot of times I want to write a rant about one thing or another, but I censor myself. 😉


  3. TOtally agree. I feel like people read my blog and think I’m so busy and productive and happy all the time. That’s not necessarily the case. It’s funny to me that people think I do “so much” when most nights I go home and watch TV with Rick. It’s just that I’m always displaying the weekend races, workouts, or whatever so it seems like a lot. Also, yeah, I don’t write about relationship issues or family drama. The blog is a highlight reel, like you said and no one wants to display their negative stuff so…anyway, great poitn to make!


    1. Haha it’s funny you say that because I am one of those people who think that! Especially since I know how much time you (probably) put into blogging, from taking/editing pictures to writing/editing posts, just based on my own experience. Plus running and Crossfit and working and having a life. But yeah, most nights I am just at home too! Similarly, everything I write about happens on the weekends or is just an occasional anecdote from the day.You’ve written more honestly about some personal issues, which I think always get good feedback from your readers. I think they key is to just not be too serious/negative and focus too much on thoughts (since my thoughts always tend to skew negative haha) ALL the time.


  4. Writing is definitely helpful to process your feelings!! I go between wanting to write about all the exciting things I get to do, and then sitting in my apartment by myself (like someone else commented!) thinking that I should probably do something exciting so I can write about it!! But lots of things in life just aren’t that “exciting” and that is okay. I like writing about my job (only in a positive way-of course!!!) but, you’re right, some things are better left unpublished. 🙂 I do love reading your blog though!!


    1. I love writing, for myself and for others. I’m the same way — I am a homebody at heart but being in a new country and faced with all these exciting possibilities, I force myself to go out and do things when my natural state would be sitting at home reading or writing.Thank you for reading and commenting! I’m glad you found my blog and that I’ve found a new potential running buddy!


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