It’s been a while since that happened, huh?
You probably thought this was because people stopped asking me for advice. This would make sense, really. I mean, this is ME we’re talking about here. People really shouldn’t be asking me for advice of any kind about any topic. Except maybe cookies. And, even then, my wisdom is kind of limited. Like, I can’t tell you how to bake cookies. Or even how to stop people from putting raisins in them.
But, it turns out, people have been emailing me for advice. I just keep forgetting to answer them, and then I come across their emails in my inbox weeks later.
In my defense, I get a lot of emails everyday. I mean at least five or six. And, at least one of those is addressed to me and not to some mysterious “Webmaster” or “Sir/Madam.”
But to help rectify the situation, here is an email I got from a reader some three weeks ago that I’m finally going to answer. Because, as they say, better late than never! (Well, maybe given the fact that this is ME giving advice, it might just be better to go with never.)Hello! My name is Maria and I am from Spain, I am a long time reader of your blog (back to when you were living in China).
I have been thinking about writing to you for advice for your advice column for a long time. See, during the time that I have been reading your blog I have found that I am very similar to you: I act like a scaredy cat in most situations in my life, but I manage to experience them anyway.
The reason why I have decided to write to you is because I am going through a very hard time in my life right now (facing breakup, depression…) and I have decided that my life deserves a change. I live in Madrid, Spain, and currently finishing my university degree. I was thinking of moving to the United States right after.
For me, the United States represents travel and love (the mentioned boy is from over there), which fits my dreams perfectly. But I am afraid I have a vision of the US that might not be real. What I wanted to know is, is the United States as good as it seems from the outside? Is it full of chances? Open minded? Do people go through life and move on from things more easily than elsewhere? How hard is it to make new friends? How hard is it to get a job if you are not American?Well, hola, Maria! I know we don’t have a lot of time to waste seeing as you have already been waiting, like, a million-billion Internet years for me to answer your email, so I’m just going to get to the point and answer all the questions you asked in your last paragraph as quickly as possible.
So, here goes:
Errm, not sure.
There you go! Aren’t you so glad you waited three weeks for that? Totally worth it, huh?The thing is, Maria, I don’t know the answers to any of the questions you asked me.
I don’t know if the United States is going to be as great in reality as it is in your vision. I don’t know if you’ll be better off here than where you are now. I don’t know if it will help cure your depression or get you over that boy. I don’t know if you’ll meet cool, open-minded people or a bunch of close-minded jerk-faces. I don’t know if you’ll make friends or get a job.
Heck, I don’t even know if you should move to United States.But I do know that you can.
And isn’t that what you’re really asking me?
Can you? Can you really do this big, bad, scary, crazy thing?
And the answer is YES.
YES, you can.
You can have this experience — just like you’ve been having all those other scary life experiences — all despite that scaredy cat voice who’s screaming from the corner of your soul, “Ahhhhh, what are you doing? STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”
But you know something about that scaredy cat voice?
She has no idea what she’s even talking about. Not one single clue. She doesn’t know who you are or what you’re capable of doing or where you’re capable of living.
You should never listen to her for advice.
She’s even worse than me at giving advice.
Although, she is a bit better at getting back to emails.Okay, for reals, people, does anybody have some advice to give Maria — especially about, maybe, say, work visas or making friends in the US or something like that? Also, do you have a problem you want to get some advice on and don’t mind waiting three weeks for it? Email me at unbravegirl at gmail.com Or, hey, maybe you want to get some advice from me in person? I’ll be speaking at Women’s Travel Fest in NYC this March. Come! Ask me questions! Watch me break out into hives and start crying because, AHHHH, PUBLIC SPEAKING!