The Government of Canada considers foreign service postings in Kingston to be ‘hardship’ postings. In spite of the beaches, reggae and tropical heat that contribute to the relaxed, ‘alright’ imagery associated with island life, Jamaica can be a hard place to live, and this past month I have really been feeling it.
Security risks, isolation, cost of living, and cultural differences all contribute to the challenges of living here. Add to that work stresses, worries about home, and a close call with a catastrophic hurricane, and I find myself feeling WEARY.
As a foreigner, one’s entire lifestyle has to adapt in order to survive here. Figuring out how to live a thriving and fulfilling life within the limitations of this place is a good exercise in self-awareness and coping with discomfort, but it is tiring if you’ve had an easy life like I have. As a chronic and unapologetic idealist, I have no desire to ‘harden’ myself in order to cope, which means I must face challenges (my own or that of those around me) with softness, patience, and vulnerability.
I’ve been practicing self-care by having quality FaceTime and Skype conversations with loved ones, indulging in movie marathons, reading some quality Canadian literature, treating myself to ‘luxuries’ like foods I miss, and spending time with fellow Canadians. A delicious Thanksgiving dinner at the residence of the High Commissioner was a simple but surprisingly touching event this past Sunday; breaking bread in a ‘safe’ space (both culturally and literally) made it easy to be grateful for the many blessings I experience in spite of the ‘hardship’ of life in Kingston.
Nothing brings hope like something to look forward to. In just over a month family and friends will arrive, which will certainly fortify my soul. I look forward to preparing for their arrival, which will undoubtedly get me feeling excited about the many wonderful things Jamaica and Kingston have to offer in spite of the hard side of the country. And in the meantime, I’ll keep myself distracted from the rougher side with Netflix and takeout Indian food.