Friday, March 19, 2010

An Expat's Hierarchy of Needs

Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I was having a discussion with a friend on Wednesday about how now having some semblance of stability in our lives leads to us having to worry about all of these things that we had just ignored before. The conversation went something like this:

"I'm having an existential crisis."
"So, what's going on?"
"I'm lonely."

Having a place to live, a stable job, a visa, a forbearance on my student loans, and most other things off my shoulders, I have the time and energy to realize that I'm lonely. I don't have a whole lot of friends here, and even fewer whom I feel like connecting with because I know they'll be here more than another month or two. So, it seems, I'm on level three. Let's take a look at each level.

Level 1: The basics. All those things like health, food, and shelter which are crucial to continuing to live.

Level 2: Stability. Once you have a place to live and food to eat, you need some stable income in order to continue to eat and dwell. For expats, we also need a visa to keep our jobs and stay in this country. This is the level at which most expats in the Czech Republic live for their first three or so months.

Level 3: Community. All people need to have some connection with other people. I believe that people, in general, need connection with like-minded folks. And I don't just mean people who like the same pubs. Community is about more than Friday night, it's also about Tuesday morning or Saturday afternoon, whenever you need a friend. This is particularly difficult to find when people are always coming and going from the expat community. This is where I am stuck and I bet a lot of others are too.

Level 4: Sense of Fulfillment in Your Work. This seems simple enough, but so many people I know are completely unhappy with their jobs and this unhappiness distracts them from everything else in their lives. You don't have to love your job, but you gotta' enjoy the little things at least.

Level 5: Cultural Fulfillment. This is different for everyone. It might be studying Czech or learning about Czech culture. It might be art, dance, or yoga (definitely spelled it joga and couldn't figure out why Safari didn't like this, oh j/y confusion).

I've left out some big things because I can't figure out where they fit in. Dating? Should expats even be allowed to date? Overcoming homesickness and/or wanderlust? Connections with people back home and/or freedom from people back home?

No comments:

Post a Comment