The glass is half full others say the glass is half empty. Maybe there is always a missing piece of the puzzle. Or maybe the pie is never whole. All of these are euphemisms for something that has become quite clear…compromise. Sometimes these moments come along and you have a sudden realization. Maybe I am late to the game, but I have come to realize life is one big compromise. Pretty positive this isn’t news to most, yet somehow I have failed to acknowledge or refused to acknowledge the fact that life may never be perfect. Don’t mean to sound like the apocalypse is coming or anything but it seems compromising is an essential way of surviving and living life.
Recently my painful admittance that most Dutch homes lack a big garden means my love for dogs has taken the backseat to the realization that cats are more practical in Dutch houses. This fact plus living with a man who is not a fan of dogs had led me to compromise. My desire to have a furry companion was welcomed by my human companion…as long as it was a cat. We met each other half way, I get my furry companion…and he gets 2 cats! Yep, pretty positive one of us over compromised on that one.
Every aspect of life is never going to be perfect. Living in Holland means my list of compromises is endless as it is not my home country. To start with, there are the cultural aspects. There are the little things like the Dutch fashion sense is well um, putting it mildly…unique. Not stereotyping all, but lets say a significant majority of Dutch girls make my eyes ache from their taste in fashion. From their need to look they have mismatched thrift shop accessories with odd skirts/leggings. My desire to match has somehow been increased out of fear.
There is of course, Dutch communication. Let’s just say Dutch directness is an essential way of communication if anything is ever to get done. The Dutch ability to make the simplest comment sound rude is well quite frankly award winning and the quick response to defend oneself makes every day a debate. Whilst, I am expected to take this communication as cultural submersion, if I am to respond in the exact same way to the Dutch it is the end of the world! It is okay for the Dutch to be direct, yet somehow we are not allowed to be direct to the Dutch. In fact, if you dare try then expect a battle. My debating skills could now win me any law suit.
The lack of weather, food variety, clothing variety and cultural diversity of my homeland are added little cultural things that play a factor to the compromise of living in Holland. In all honesty, it isn’t the bigger picture. It is just an added bonus to the realization that some days can be a struggle. With the realization that one has settled comes the realization of all the compromises I am making. In all honesty, it isn’t the little things of Dutch culture that are the struggle it is the matters of more substance.
Tradition. Let’s be honest, Dutch weddings are like a business meeting with champagne. It is the total opposite of the weddings I grew up with. I already know I will be compromising the Dutch legal obligations with my need to actually make the occasion romantic. The lack of religious knowledge by a very secular country and the aspect that religion that does exists is very old school is a far stretch from the 50 shades of Judaism in the US ( hippy Rabbi anyone?).
Family, the biggest compromise of them all. Whilst a once a year visit to certain family members is most welcoming. It is sometimes hard that you do not see your family on a regular basis. You miss out on a lot. You really must rely on photos and communication. It sometimes seems unfair that we see my other half’s family so much and mine so little. However, it just means I always decide our holiday destination, which just happens to be the location of my family.
So what exactly am I compromising? You see the glass is half full. With all of these above aspects that are a struggle comes the opposite, the good stuff. I have accepted that that all of these sacrifices/cultural annoyances/negative are compromises for what I do get. So what do I get? An absolute prince charming, a place I have made home, my ability to learn and speak a foreign language (even if the Dutch someone speak English to me even before I open my mouth). I get to enjoy more then a 2 week paid vacation days, healthcare that is somewhat normal, education that is good, a culture less superficial. Not to mention a true appreciation for the sun, the fact that there is never 3 feet of snow, quick supermarket trips because the supermarket is the size of a living room. The ability to save everyone from my driving and taking public transport is a bonus for all. Not to mention the quirky things that make the Dutch and you learn to accept it and realize the certain annoyances from your own culture are not so bad. The distance between family has made my family relationship better. My favorite compromise? The fact I have made my own life here away from all things I knew growing up just means I have that extra kick to really make my household, religion, tradition, life in general my own unique way to incorporate aspects that I am missing with what I have compromised. I get the elements of British and American culture in a normal setting, therefore I have found a compromise of where to live.
Compromising is not just for those who live abroad. It comes into all aspects of daily life. From not feeling bad you ate a cookie (or two) because you went to the gym. To compromising the nightly TV schedule with your other half. Compromising a cat for dog is not immune to Holland. Whilst relationship compromising would be a blog in itself, lets just say it is crucial. All of these compromises are part of life. It is up to one to decide if the compromise is worth it. It is quite simply true that the glass is always half empty. Life will never be exactly as you want it. The only way to deal with this is to compromise and with luck the comprise makes the hard things a little bit easier.