Yesterday was the five year anniversary of this blog. It started out on May 2, 2004 when I was anxiously awaiting my upcoming trip to Canada. I’d not been home in almost four years so I was long overdue. Now here I am, five years later… looking back on it like it was just yesterday!
In the past five years a lot has changed on this site. I’ve gone through a number of themes, changed the look endless times and went from writing in plain HTML, to Movabletype and finally WordPress, which I think I’ll be sticking with for a while.
Not just that but my feelings about the Netherlands has also changed quite drastically and not having as much to rant and complain about has made for a bit of a challenge when trying to figure out what to write. I try to write about the more positive aspects nowadays, while still ‘keeping it real’ and being honest about the parts that still aren’t so great.
I’ve learned a lot over the years. Mostly, what not to say. I used to see this space as mine and mine alone, where I could say and do whatever I wanted and it was up to everyone else to suck it up or not read it. While technically that may be true, it wasn’t exactly realistic. In five years of maintaining this blog, it’s been a hard lesson in learning the balance between free speech and knowing when to shut my mouth and keep my thoughts to myself.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years… but then I say that about everything, don’t I? I never stop being amazed by how quickly time goes by, especially since I’ve moved to the Netherlands. This summer I’ll have been here for 10 years, that’s a scary thought when I think of how little I’ve managed to accomplish since living here. I suspect, and hope, that the next 10 will be less difficult, less plagued with my issues and inability to adapt, and more about just enjoying life for both myself and my husband.
I do have a few regrets, things I wish I’d handled better, not ranted about or perhaps had taken a minute to think about before saying. Unfortunately, I can’t change any of it now, all I can do is try to learn from it and not make the same mistakes in the future. That said, a lot of good has come from this blog too. Not just for me, but for other expats as well.
I met my best friend because her husband found my blog and told her about it.
I met most of my other friends the same way.
I’ve gotten many messages from other expats expressing how happy they were to find my blog, and how good it feels for them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles here.
I think I’ve also been able to be a bit of an example. Not in the way you might think I mean that. I would never consider myself to be an example of how to do anything in regards to coming here and making a life for yourself. Rather, I am an example of how NOT to do it. A lot of my 10 years has been wasted due to my stubbornness and inability to adapt. Again, not something I can change, but I can try to urge other people to take action earlier and if need be, get some help with it. Sitting around being bitter and angry, which I admit I still do at times, just less frequently… is going to do more harm than good. Another lesson I had to learn the hard way, and don’t wish for any of my fellow expats.
A lot of my time now is spent trying to undo the damage all those years of fighting life here has caused, which makes my progress here still slower than it should be. If I knew in the beginning the things I know now, I would have done things so much differently. Hopefully being honest about my bad times as well as the good will urge other people who are new to the Netherlands not to follow in my footsteps, but to grab the world by the balls and do all they can to not just cope, but thrive, in their new surroundings.
So here I am, 5 years older (ugh, 34th birthday coming up on Friday), a little bit wiser, 2147 posts and 227,439 visitors later… still here, still writing and more in love with my Dutchie than ever (9 year anniversary next Tuesday).
To those of you who have been following me over the years, thanks! Your comments and the friendships I’ve made as a result of writing this blog (you know who you are!) have made such a massive difference in my life and my level of happiness. Much love!