Stop playing the ‘lets compare lives game’
Ok I can’t totally admit that I never do this still, of course that evil traits comes back to haunt me from time to time. But in the states it was much worse. You are taught to go to university, resign yourself to a ton of debt without even complete job security but that’s just how it is. And it’s always about what someone else is doing, how much they’re making etc. At least that’s how I personally felt. While some might claim that doesn’t matter, it kinda does – this being because in America ‘if you just work hard’ as hard as this person, or that person – you might just be a billionaire jetting off to Singapore for a weekend, right? I get that its changing due to the economic crises but I left in 2007. Lets be honest for a second, that is never going to happen in Italy. You either are lucky enough to have money and/or work remotely from this amazing country and you don’t compare as much because – what’s there to compare? We are all more or less in the same boat. Unless you areBerlusconi, then you can steal and cheat and for some crazy reason, enough people still love you.
This particular point is HUGE. I do not compare lives with anyone I know in Italy. You know how back in Canada/USA if you're at a cocktail party, the first question asked is inevitably: so what do you do? And it's not usually asked with honest intentions...let's be honest. We ask that question to size up our conversation partner and to see how we are doing in life relative to them. You may argue this if you've never lived abroad where people don't talk about work or jobs as incessantly as across the Atlantic. But I swear, it's the hard truth. There is a stark difference between here and there. Here, besides my work colleagues, I literally have zero idea as to what my friends do for work. I have literally no idea what their significant other does. AND NO ONE ASKS. I bet you know the jobs of every single person you're friends/acquaintances with right? I know these same fun facts about everyone back home. We display it on Facebook too- real estate conferences, white coat ceremonies, bar calls, whiskey night with the firm partners, post-call wine, #trustmeI'manengineer etc etc. I'm guilty of it too and I find myself still updating my friends on Facebook with job-related info (buy the book Once Upon An Expat!), it's a habit that's engrained in us but one that I think we could do without. I am now very cautious and aware about asking the work question to anyone as I think it's better to be like the Italians in this respect. It actually results in a feeling of community and camaraderie rather than competition, and those two former concepts tend to fit much better around a dinner table and a bottle of wine.