Until last weekend, I’ve been wondering what the hell has been wrong with me for the last month or so.
I’m staying in a pretty apartment with views of snow-capped mountains.
I’m working a few hours a day and my students and clients are delighted and fighting for space in my schedule.
I have time to cook and enough cash to do whatever I feel like, within reason.
I’m fit and healthy and have nothing to worry about.
And I officially have The World’s Best Boyfriend.
So why the hell have I been waking up feeling like shit? Sitting at breakfast with a face like a smacked arse? Walking around the streets feeling empty? Feeling listless, unenthused, uninspired, demotivated and disconnected? For no reason!
This is not like me!
Obviously the first thing I did when I realised how bad I was feeling was make sure that I had a strong gratitude practice because, without gratitude, you’ve nothing. But I’ve been logging my gratitude every day for almost three months using an app I was testing for Action for Happiness. So it wasn’t that.
I started analysing my thought-patterns, behaviours, diet, sleep, time in nature… and I drew a complete blank which is totally unheard of, for me. (I’m INTJ – we’re tenacious.)
I wondered if my serotonin levels were low so I started taking spirulina tablets in the hope that the tryptophan would help, but it didn’t make a scrap of difference.
So, I took out Life Purpose Alchemy – my own bestseller that helps people to figure out what they’re meant to be doing with their life – and worked my way through it and, out of the pages jumped my stark-staring obvious problem:
There are two things presently missing from my life:
I looked at the people I’ve been spending the most time with (except my outstandingly positive and patient boyfriend) and they fall into two categories:
The digital nomads from the coworking space that I meet up with once or twice a week.
What I noticed was that, although the nomads are nice people – there’s nothing wrong with them at all! – we’re not really on the same wavelength.
Although I can usually manage to “get along” with most people if I make the effort to, when I meet people I truly connect with I feel it instantly; real connection can’t be forced and, in Bansko, there isn’t a big enough pool of people from which to find the soul connections I need in my day to day.
The bulk of the nomads who are attracted to this ski resort are sporty, techy or bloggy – and I’m none of those things:
Although I love a walk in the mountains, an 8am bootcamp in the freezing cold is my idea of hell.
Although I built my own website and have been running an online business for over 5 years, I’m NOT into coding and programming (- I’m not even sure if coding and programming are the same thing!)
And although I’m a writer and podcast guest, I’m not trying to get my world travel sponsored by Hilton Hotels via a million subscribers to staged photos and a hundred hashtags.
Finding people here with whom I at least share interests – if not a soul connection – is challenging. The one woman I felt any kind of potential for friendship with had left within days of us meeting, such is nomad life.
Local Bulgarians that I pass on the street, and meet in shops, restaurants and at service counters.
Let’s not mince words. These people are, hands down, the most unfriendly £uckers I’ve ever encountered. Not all of them, obviously, but the majority.
I’ve read forums and articles about this to make sure I wasn’t imagining it, and yeah, communism had an impact on the culture here so much so that, apparently, if you smile at a Bulgarian, he thinks you’re a lunatic because there is nothing to smile about and showing emotion is a sign of weakness.
I’ve literally stopped even making eye contact with, let alone saying hello to, people in the street here because it’s soul-destroying to be repeatedly rebuffed.
I did a little test and noticed that if I totally ignore a shop assistant I get a marginally better reaction than if I greet them warmly – they really don’t take kindly to kindness. And I can’t live like that.
Yeah, I’ve found a few individuals dotted about that seem to have moved beyond that mindset but, in general, the best response you’ll get to your friendly “dobry den!” (good day!) errs on the upper side of neutral. Often it’s a tut, scowl or zero reaction.
And they’re idle, too: they do the bare minimum at a snail’s pace, and more money or expressions of gratitude aren’t motivators. Also, it’s not cultural to show initiative so if something requires thinking outside the box, they down tools.
A Bulgarian waitress won’t tell you if you’re ordering too much food. If you order the fish with a side of potatoes and salad, if the fish already comes with potatoes and salad, they won’t mention it to you like a helpful person would. No. They’ll bring you fish with potatoes and salad. AND an extra portion of potatoes and salad.
(Conversely, if you’re ordering the fish thinking it comes with vegetables they won’t mention that either. You’ll just get a piece of fish for your dinner and it’s totally your own fault for not realising you’d need to order some sides.)
A new Greek restaurant opened in Bansko recently and, honestly, it helped restore my faith in human nature. Opa Tavern’s owners are genuinely lovely, warm people who want to make you feel happy and comfortable – the cold restaurateurs of Bulgaria had made me forget that was even a thing!
Still wondering if it was me “just being negative”, last weekend I took a quick overnight trip to a small port town in Greece. As soon as we got off the bus in Kavala it was like a weight had been lifted – I felt joy I hadn’t felt in weeks! The whole vibration of the place filled me with positivity.
We headed to our hotel where we were greeted with warmth and friendliness and this welcoming environment permeated every bar, restaurant and shop we patronised. It lasted a full 26 hours right up until we got to our bus to go back to Bansko and were met with an obnoxious scowl by the Bulgarian bus driver.
The results from my book, some research about Bulgarian culture, and the trip to Greece combined woke me up to realise that there’s nothing bloody wrong with me, I just need to get the hell out of here!
I tried for a lot of years to squeeze my square peg into round holes and all that ever achieved was making me feel depressed and more like an outsider than ever. I know that, when I’m absolutely authentically myself, my soul tribe are drawn to me like magnets – like happened in San Diego, Istanbul and Malta in the last 12 months.
But I have to be where the vibe of the place attracts my kind of people and, when it comes to being creative in Bansko, I’m all out of inspiration. I tried to organise a painting day but nobody took me up on it, probably because I have no nomad friends here, and the Bulgarians hate life so they’re not going to enjoy painting!
Look, I met my (Dutch) man in Bulgaria and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. But I’m done with trying to make this place work for me. When I return from the Christmas holiday, I’m going to Greece.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. I’m writing this now because, you know, I’m still learning and I want to pass what I learn on to you.
The “Law of Attraction” beginners will try to tell you that you’re “attracting negativity” but that’s not necessarily the case, you could just be living or working in the wrong environment for you.
I don’t want you to believe that there’s something wrong with you for not being satisfied with your life. Maybe you can’t just get on a bus to Greece at the drop of a hat. But you’re probably not as stuck in your situation as you think you are, either.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk with me about it; I’m always happy to hear from you and I always reply.
p.s. If you’d like a copy of my Amazon bestseller Life Purpose Alchemy: Discover what fulfils you and do what you love a living, you can get it here.