I have been a little, and sometimes very, depressed and anxious since coming to Paris. Having arrived with no plan to stay yet no plan to go anywhere else, I was counting on the universe to tell me what to do. But things aren’t falling into my lap the way they did in Dakar, and I am finding myself with a million different possible paths to pursue, none of which seems likely to be immediately satisfying or fruitful. It’s been a recipe for paralysis, with all its attendant emotions.
Apparently I am on a fairly common rollercoaster for the newly arrived and jobless. So I’m trying to be gentle with myself.
Things like running, and writing, and studying French would all help my mood but I’m stuck in that vicious cycle where I can’t get myself to do any of these things frequently enough to lift my spirits enough to provide the energy to keep doing them.
Apart from the feeling that my angst is crushing my soul like an industrial-sized garlic press, my day to day life continues to resemble every Parisian visitors’ fantasy: eating decadent food, drinking dark espresso, dallying at cute corner bistros, visiting amazing art and cultural spaces, wandering beautiful streets, and being serenaded in and by French.
A new friend of mine arrived here from the States a month before me, in similar circumstances and mindset (i.e. without a job and ready to hustle; followed by discouraged and unsure). We quickly admitted to each other that we were having a pretty tough time, but we also acknowledged our hesitance to tell anyone else, for fear of being written off as assholes.
“Oh yeah, it’s so hard being unemployed in Paris, poor you. Nothing to do but eat macarons all day, how depressing.” Well, yes, it turns out it is, if you are unable to compartmentalize your anxieties in order to appreciate your joys.
Every time I go through one of these emotionally challenging times I tell myself it’s an opportunity to learn how to center myself no matter what the situation. And then I curl up into a ball and panic.
Well, what can I say. Tomorrow is another day…