American friends overseas drone away daily about how the USA is evil. Europeans are cliché, and their complaints can be categorized and classified, generally lacking any creativity.
Yet, an American will always begin, “The USA is screwed up.”
And I reply, “For the sake of discussion, can your complaints be specific?”
The American says, “I am not complaining.”
“Yes, I can tell you are not complaining. You are calm, quiet and relaxed; your voice and body language tell me this is not a complaint. But on with the day: What are you talking about?” I say.
There is a 10 percent chance the American will come up with something new and a 1 in 1,000 chance the European will be unique in his or her rants.
Bingo! The American then goes on a rant about a specific U.S. injustice, and I listen and hope this person succeeds in escaping the USA. Generally, the person, company, group or government unit inside the USA that he or she says is unfair will never come to retrieve him or her abroad. Very few expats merit the USA’s time and efforts, but often the person telling me his or her woes and how he or she hates America cannot, indeed return, as he or she is wanted by the U.S. government.
Popular Reasons Americans Abroad Complain
1. Taxes in the USA are unfair, and they claim that they did not cheat but were forced to pay anyway.
2. There are no good jobs in the USA and they couldn’t find a new one after quitting their job (from which they were really fired).
3. Lawyers that work for their ex-wife or ex-husband and made them pay child support.
4. Marijuana laws are unfair, even though hypocritical politicians smoke themselves.
5. American women are nuts, so they love the girls abroad.
I am no different; I am not special. I choose No. 5 and pipe in with my own private rants about how I am not fond of American women. My number two rant is about how Americans are buying things on credit, how they live in the mall, buying as if they stores will disappear tomorrow, then complain they have no money. …
Now that I am 15 years out of the USA, my rants, raves and complaints are softening. My voice rarely spikes anymore, rarely raised in sudden anger. I am slowly become bored with myself. I truly do not care to think about American women, how my friends at home have no money because their house mortgage has them tied up, or how my American friends are too busy spending and working to talk, much less be my friend.
I am one of the better arm-chair psychologists on the planet, and I truly enjoy listing to angry people, though not the loud screaming types, but the steady, rage-filled ones who have thoughts ruminating, rummaging and repeating in their brains.
Their rants are windows into their souls; they are signs of intimate problems in their lives, and often, voicing their anger is as close to intimate these people will ever be in their lives. They are telling me their life story – the good, the bad and the ugly – in two minutes. More importantly, I can learn why they are outside the USA and not inside – Nobody leaves a place he or she loves.
Andy's Favorite and Well-Used Complaints About the USA
1. I love the woman outside the USA more than the ones inside.
2. I love living outside the USA because there is seldom a mall or mortgage to be found; the world is run on cash, not credit.
Solutions and Conclusions
We all, every American living abroad, complains. Generally, we are angry because we love the USA. We left the USA to escape the punishment or the torture of dealing with the problems. Contrary to mythical wisdom, running away from problems does work. If we leave the country, the problem ends, but the anger inside goes with us.
Let me explain my arguments and complaints about the nature of love.
I told my mother one time, “I would never argue with a woman.”
She replied, “If you refuse to argue, then you do not love her.”
The more I argue with a woman, normally, the more I love her, the more I am afraid she will leave. My emotions are tender, easy to push, and fear of losing her makes me try to be right, wrong or agree so we can live happily ever after.
The bigger the love, the bigger the anger.
If we wait long enough, if we sit in one place long enough, or if we walk away long enough, the angry noises will abate. That is why people live abroad – to stop the noise in their heads.
How do you escape the injustices of the USA? Wait, sit or walk away until you are safe. There is no problem that does not give up and go away. Walk away, if you wish, quickly even. …
99 percent of expats do not want justice: They want to live abroad and avoid punishment for all the injustices they propagate on our fellow man.
As for me, Andy Lee Graham, why do I live abroad? I don’t settle abroad, but I do set up a temporary household abroad. I am always mobile, moving around, and will continue moving. And only by moving, constantly changing countries, can I avoid listening to the rants of my fellow man. When I stay long enough in one location, I learn to despise my fellow man, as I hear the same people repeating the same complaints. I seldom find a person who is content and happy, with enough money, time and love to hang out, talk and be grateful. I can categorize my friends by their types of complaints. This is emotionally draining.
Walking away is the solution, but staying is love. Travel long enough and you will surely escape, becoming who you want to be. Walk away, travel until you have nothing more to complain about: That is the road less traveled.
I like people watching, but I don't like listening to the conversations of strangers, and when they aren't speaking English, it's easier to tune them out. When you're a native speaker you're an unwilling audience for strangers in restaurants, on transportation, in elevators, everywhere. Last time I was in the US I was going crazy from all the babble around me, too much distraction. Frequently they're annoying or stupid. I like not speaking the language very well. I have no idea if they're annoying or stupid and don't want to know. I can always say I don't speak the language, too, even if I can.
I've said this before but for any new people, I lived in 4 different countries over the years and worked for our government.
One of the main reasons for liking the expat life is when you are away from the capital of government (The US) you tend to not care what they do because you are not living there, you don't vote because what they do basically has little or no effect upon you any longer. Now the second part is when you live in another country you could generally care less about what that government does or does not do because you are an expat not a citizen. You have freed yourself from all those problems, the good, the bad they process.
Now some will say, but you worked for the US so how did you avoid them and their business?
I married a local, I did my job (still had to pay taxes) but I didn't care what they were doing as not being there did not really affect me any longer except within my job which was a job I enjoyed and I ignored whatever was going on in DC or state governments.
I also learned that the general population of any country, even those with cruel dictatorships are basically the same everywhere. They just want to make a living and be happy regardless what they don't like about their government. Of course not all achieve this but it's what they want.
I have met plenty who were running. Living in California just before it was 'discovered' was one thing, then they came with their problems and "Have a Nice Day" went out the window.
Not all who disapprove of their government or governments in general are running, some are looking for adventure, learning, a new set of friends that do not sit around talking about their latest operation, language immersion, and volunteering to name a few. I suspect there will be an increasing number who simply cannot live on their SS/pension and must move to a less expensive country...it looks like that will be my reason.
"Remember, the first person you meet when you get off the plane is yourself."
At first it was all about the differences, but now that I've settled down a bit in my new little country I've pretty much forgotten those differences and find people are unique due to the cultural differences, but I enjoy them as much as Westerners. I do entertain Westerners quite often.
One reason I moved abroad was because I'd have to work and take a job from a young person. Living in the Third World allows me to only work on what gives me joy without worrying about money matters. I write, site-see and people are quite impressed when I hand them my business card. Wow! I'm an author and journalist-very impressive. So I got to redefine myself as who I want to be and that is a wonderful gift.
Men are probably just as crafty here in Nepal, but I am not interested in intimate relationships. However, I have to say that it's like how Wayne Dyer put it. He asks, "How were people back home? Well, they are about the same here." Why, because I am the same and draw the same kind of people to me wherever I go. In order to change the people who show up in my world I don't need to move, just change my beliefs. Living abroad has been the best teacher for this lesson.
The mall culture is certainly one disincentive for me about living in the US. It's a fact of the culture and you either accept it or decide to avoid it. But other places have them too (increasingly). When I've moved to other countries its usually been a case of "going to" something interesting, rather than running away from something. I spent two and a half (2011 into 2013) years in Cambodia (in two different towns) and loved it but found its problems were ones that ultimately made me want to go somewhere else (nice people there though). When I meet bitter travelers I've often found (like you) that they are bitter because they've learned the lesson well all do "wherever you go, there you are." Those who are running are often actually trying to escape themselves, but they'd rather point at some evil or bone of contention.
Hi Bill, I like your comment about ignoring what's happening in DC and in other state capitals! I live in the heart of Washington, DC and I've come to the same conclusion. LOL. Lots of well-meaning people here, but I don't think some realize how out-of-touch they can be with the lives of everyday people around the world.
I could write a book on "the excuses I used to not join friends at the mall" Living in Vancouver there are malls everywhere!!! and the same stuff in all of them. When I go to places where there are unique little shops with unusual items I really like shopping there. Otherwise I'll putter in my garden or read a book. Have any of you read "Unbroken" yet? I see it's now been made into a movie. The book was amazing! Yikes, did I get off topic...sorry...