by Sally Kennedy – WSB Founder
As most of you know our goal is to assist expat spouses to adjust to Riyadh by providing access to professional and opportunities and development.
Find something to do and not just survive your time here ….but thrive.
When asked to speak today I tried to think of something new to say…….CNN was on announcing that March 14th is “International day of Freedom!”
I have been here a long time but when I first arrived if I heard just the refrain from “God Bless America” I used to burst into tears……..”Land of the Free…..”
How many of you upon telling friends and family you were moving to Saudi Arabia had a response of
“WHY?”……Do you think you can do it? Can you live there? Do you know the restrictions?
And we all acknowledge there are restrictions of your freedom……
*Driving……independent movement….going where ever you want whenever you want….and also bicycle, scooter and pretty much walking down the street…..thank God for Uber, Careem and our many trusty drivers here.
*Well……..I may not be able to drive but I still have my self expression and unique style…..Really? except you have to cover it with a black abbaya…….
*Well…..if I am not happy I am out of there……Really? Not without an exit/re-entry visa……better commit and make the best of the situation.
*and life…….lots of shops not open in morning, most closed from noon till 4-5pm….some only for men…..when you are finally ready to go it is prayer time……and traffic is in gridlock.
*And the biggest restriction of all – the Freedom to WORK! Be productive.
“I have been financially independent since I was 17.” “Can I sit home?” All that education and experience just gathering dust…….will I be able to re-enter the work force when I leave here?
The result of all this is ANXIETY!
Is it safe to go out? I don’t belong here! I don’t know how to behave or what to do……”
And you restrict your own freedom more than society…..
Everyone came here for a reason (it was not the weather or view) and everyone here has some sense of adventure or you would not even try life here.
BUT… getting up the nerve to open that door and walk out takes strength.
Leigh Jane Obermyer on our board sent us a picture of the old movie star Maggie Smith with the caption: “You are a woman of reasonable intellect and ability…..Stop whining and find something constructive to do!”
That is the essence of WSB.
Find something to do….
Open the door…..
Get something done and make a difference.
Someone will say thanks and even if they don’t you will know.
And you will be surprised to wake up happy…..we all like to be productive. And you will find you belong to a wonderful, warm, welcoming community. We do have a great, supportive, diverse community here.
***Unbiased confirmation of your ability and achievement is immeasurably important. Validation of your worth.*****
People in your life (husband, children, friends…) will be either too nice or too judgmental.
We don’t need to be pandered to and we don’t need our efforts to be belittled. Strangers will present the truth.
The satisfaction of knowing you have done something worthwhile creates confidence, self esteem and a sense of self……it is YOU.
And you can do so many things……Parent/teacher groups, charity volunteering (short or long term), work from home, full time job, tutoring……..whatever fits your life at the time …….you can reinvent yourself whenever you want.
Then, you find yourself “FREE”….to connect and get on with life regardless of those “restrictions on your freedom.”
And as a last thought, think about the freedoms you gain here……
*Freedom you have from getting help – nanny, housekeeper, driver……to go to the gym, out to dinner without the kids, work uninterrupted, do all you work in the back of the car on your phone while someone else battles the traffic…..you are not the be all driver, shopper, cook, cleaner, secretary……of everything and everyone in the family…..delegate!
*Freedom to travel – we are in the middle of the world here….close to soooo much.
*Freedom to spend (or save) that extra income you get by being here.
*Freedom from obligations……no in-laws insisting you come for the holidays or the expectations of society…….do what you want for a change.
And once you open that door…….no one can stop you.
Please, look at all the jobs and volunteer positions, think of what you want to do on your own.
Think of what or who you can use in your own life……create an opportunity for someone.
Be positive, self motivated and assertive and “Stop whining and find something constructive to do!”
Happy International day of Freedom!