La vie n’est pas toujours en rose

It’s funny to be in a position of romanticization. While at times my life may certainly feel romantic, it is also simply my life. But being foreign in a country like France, at least here in this small town, where the young students I teach look at me with these big, sparkly eyes, I feel subject to idealism.

I think about the impact that having me around could have on them as they get older. I think about what I might represent for them, like the idea that the world is bigger than their hometown, where many of them have lived their whole lives. I also wonder about the way my presence, as a temporary visitor, might be affecting their lives. There is a tendency, I think, for a person who comes into your life (or lets you into theirs) for a small amount of time to become frozen in that sphere, and for a clear, refined image to be projected onto them. The person becomes a somewhat superficial representation of something more discrete than themselves. Discrete here used in the sense of being bound and contained within something.

To be a foreign person “from America (ooh, ahh)” is to be illustrated by the connotations these students have about American people and life in the USA. They tend to romanticize, as many of us do when we’ve encountered something or someone new and unusual, as if I must be everything they’ve ever dreamed of about the USA. But to me, it’s just another thing about me, and while I am proud to be from where I’m from, I know the ugliness of it too, and in my view, it isn’t always something to be revered.

In another realm, I have a hunch that others, probably those who see me from a distance rather than close friends and family, see glimpses of my life, and I know that if I were them, I would think wow, she must be living her dreams, how romantic. And I am — those people would not be wrong in thinking so.

But it’s funny, having the problems I have (because we all have problems) and feeling the things that I feel, i.e. not always happy or sure of myself, and knowing that onlookers are looking at me with rose colored glasses, possibly even envious of the life they imagine I must have. From my perspective, while I may be living one of my dreams—traveling, experiencing, living in a beautiful foreign country — there are days I still feel restless, tired, grumpy, for one reason or another.

In a way it’s nice, because it’s a reminder to see my own life through rose colored glasses, and when I am feeling down or anxious, I pretend to be one of those unknowing onlookers and see past the problems I may be experiencing to see the romance of my own life. Because what fun is life without a little romanticization.