They say that expat life involves two buckets: a sh*t bucket and a money bucket. When the first one outweighs the other, it’s time to move on. This adage may be why people are shocked when they discover my husband and I have lived in Qatar for seven years. The average stay of a white collar expat in Doha is three years. By this measure we have been here two and a half expat cycles.
What’s our secret? We have another bucket. One for laughing. When our son acts like a demon possessed child at the park, running up and shoving children away what he wants to play with (an action that would have him and us ostracized at any American playground) we reprimand and shake our heads. When the guy in front of us slams on his brakes so he can pop the curb to make up a parking space, we follow suit and pull up next to him. When my single, childless students, still living at home with their parents complain about how busy they are, I point to my protruding belly, ripe with pregnancy number two, and we share a giggle.
Laughter may not change the facts of an aggressive toddler, bad driving, or self indulgence. But a good cackle does make it easier to let go of negativity. The more I laugh, the less I feel personally affronted by whatever obstacle is in my way.
Though he has a temper like the Incredible Hulk (and the introverted non-Hulk personality to match) my husband can laugh at himself after he’s had a chance to cool off. The reason I married him is because he would show me, in off beat moments, how my actions, words, or phrases, sounded to him. Through imitation, he made me laugh.
I even joined a standup comedy troupe to share the stories of our multi-ethnic family’s adventures in a racially defined society. After a few years with the group, I made a short documentary about the intersection of humor and culture called Laughing with an Accent.
Have a laugh. Or two or more. You need them to get through life, expat or otherwise.
*This post is part of a month long challenge to post everyday. Learn more from host Terri Giuliano Long.