Well that was short-lived.
I’ve given up on the whole night owl thing. It’s impossible, and it makes me miserable. I like seeing the city by daylight, but seeing as it’s still winter here, the sun sets about 7pm, which isn’t horribly early, but it’s still before I’m done with work. So I feel like I’m not getting to see the city as much as I’d like, except when it’s already dark. On the other hand, it made me feel for all those night owl folk who have to live according to early bird schedules. The good news is, I have a solution for you guys: move to Europe, but work for Americans.
Actually, I’ve discovered the hardest part of this particular working abroad experience has to do with syncing my schedule to my colleagues back home. I don’t intend to. I keep meaning to get up early, start my day at a reasonable time, and get several hours of work in before my stateside coworkers are out of bed. But instead, I keep putting off the start of my work day. No one’s asking for anything yet, so I may as well slip in a bit more reading, right?
Only slipping into this habit means I don’t start work till early afternoon, and then to get in a full day I’m working well into the evening. And after 9 or 10:00, I’m too tired to study Spanish. Which means that if it didn’t happen in the morning, it won’t happen at all. And most days, I’m not up to blogging, either, or anything but talking, or reading, or Netflix.
All this to say that: 3 weeks in to being in Madrid, I’ve spent 1 week jet lagged, 1 week reasonably productive, and 1 week crashing and burning. I feel like I should disclose this because I saw something on social media today talking about how easy it is to make life seem awesome when sometimes it’s not all as awesome as it seems. And there’s a lot of pressure, weirdly, to make working abroad in Spain for a couple months seem like the absolute dream.
And it is! Don’t get me wrong. I am super happy to have worked out a way to live my life this way. And I feel like I’m whining when I say but this is HARD, you guys! Like somehow admitting that while in the middle of this cool thing means I’m unable to appreciate the joys of life.
But it’s also the truth. I had a bad week last week, simply as a result of being massively underproductive. This week has been a slow but steady recovery. It’s hard not to panic a little when I spent time earlier this week booking various weekend trips and realized that I only have two more weekends left in Madrid. The time! It flies! What if I don’t make the most of it!
Well, for starters, I’m pretty sure the time is flying by because I actually have made good use of quite a bit of it: I spent a weekend in New York, checked out the Prado, popped over to Toledo for a weekend, and have generally done a good job getting used to the everyday life of living here. I’m getting better at ordering food in restaurants, and I’ve even found a few places that I would like to go back to and settle into for a while.
So things don’t go perfectly. And because of all the expectations, the bumps in the road jolt more than otherwise. But you recover, and you do your morning exercise, and you read your book, and you take your walk, and you work your full day, and you write your blog. And after all that doing, you realize you actually are accomplishing the things you set out to do.
I’d like to think I’m getting better at balancing, as well. That I work to get all my things done in a day, but when I get to the end and I realize I’m not going to make it through all of them, I accept it. “I’ll do it tomorrow” isn’t always procrastination. Not if tomorrow comes, and you get up and do that thing.
Not every day is going to be a perfect, 5-star day of productivity. I won’t get in Spanish practice today. I’ve only put in 8,000 steps. And neither of those will change, because it’s nearly 11:00, and if I don’t settle down with a book I won’t get the sleep I need to be productive tomorrow.
But today was really good. And even though I didn’t get everything in, it’s helping me get back on track. I’ll do those other things tomorrow, and it will be good.
Until then, goodnight.