To leave or not to leave…that is the (constant) question…

I am lucky enough to have lived and known life in another country, another culture and another continent. I am lucky enough to have successfully climbed the career ladder and built a life in the sun. Everyone who knows me thinks I’m lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m lucky; I KNOW I am lucky…but the luckier I am, the harder the decision to give it all up becomes.

I will have to give it all up one day. Dubai is a bubble that is waiting to burst. For some people that happens within a year or two, for others it takes a decade. I feel like my Dubai life is like a fast-flowing river and I’ve taken it upon myself to build a dam that is protecting it from overflowing back to reality. Leaving is going to be hard.

Every year goes something like this:

1. I’ll not think about it until Christmas

2. I think about it until Christmas

3. Christmas at home is fun, but nothing has changed and it is cold 

4. I return to the sun and fall back in love with Dubai

5. The time comes when I need to decide if I’m staying or leaving so I stop thinking about it

6. It is too late to leave so I sign up to another year…

7. Repeat

I don’t know if I actually want to leave Dubai or if I consider it every year because I thinks it’s strange that I don’t want to. I don’t want to leave prematurely, yet I don’t want to spend my last year wishing I was home (or somewhere else…) I’ve weighed up the pros and cons a thousand times and Dubai wins – for now. 

Where would I go next? Would I survive without the sun and the tax free salary? Would I regret it? Will I adapt back to life in Glasgow? My head hurts even thinking about it!

I am at stage number 1 of the cycle right now, and I am anticipating the next 6 until this time next year when, no doubt, it will all start again.

A ‘lifetime’ of friendships and what I’ve learned about their worth…

“Everyone has a friend during every stage of their life, but only lucky ones have the same friend in all stages of life…”Author: Unknown. Verdict: Absolutely False.

I will readily admit that I love a good quote, who doesn’t? No matter what happens in life I can always find a quotation, from one source or another, to relate to. Sometimes it’s a song, or I’ve even turned to Disney! They, at least, make me feel like I might just come out the other side of a shit situation or, at best, help me realise that the ‘tough’ time I’m going through isn’t that bad at all.

I have seen the quote above shared on social media several times. I completely understand that it is ‘true’ for some people; although for those of us who have boarded a plane for life abroad, or for one reason or another had the exciting opportunity to establish a new group of ‘girls,’ then it rings untrue on so many levels. I feel extremely lucky, more than lucky, to have friends all over the world – some I have known for my lifetime, some I have known for years and some only months. They are all as valuable and as irreplaceable as each other. Why do only people that have the same friend at all stages of their life get to be lucky? Here is my evidence to prove that, on this charge, the verdict is absolutely false. Here are the four types of friends that you need in your life and, if you have at least one in each category, the four reasons why you should consider yourself lucky.

The ones that have been around as long as you can remember

This is the obvious place to begin. However, are these friends the most valuable? The answer, like all of the friends I will mention, is yes, sometimes… 

They are sometimes sisters, or often as good as. They are the ones that know your elderly grandparents as well as you do. They are the ones that give you a second home, a second set of parents and a second fridge to raid. They are invited to all family events, sometimes before you! They are the ones you need when your family pet passes away. They know your love-life better than you and will forever remind you of ‘that one time…’
These friends keep you grounded, keep you connected to your roots, and ensure you always find your way back ‘home,’ no matter how many thousands of miles away you are.

The ones you work with

Now, I’m going to use the term ‘professional’ lightly. If you met my friends in this category, you would know why (you know who you are, clan!)

This stage of my life has been curve ball after curve ball. From the moment I ventured on my teaching career I have seen too many changes. Every year, so far, I have faced decisions about new roles, promotions and school changes. There is nobody I need more in these situations than my colleague friends. I love my ‘friends that have been around for as long as I can remember,’ but bless them, they wouldn’t have a clue! 

You don’t just need them because they understand the jargon; they understand you professionally. They both know, and want, what is best for your career. They are the ones that support your professional goals. They know all about the internal politics of your profession and what is going on in your head from 9-5 (or 7-5 if you have the pleasure of teaching in Dubai!)

These are the friends that allow you to see snippets of their life, the ones you get to share all the gossip with because they don’t know any of your other friends and the ones that you spend most time with. They are, ultimately, the ones that help you through the day to day rockiness of life, in more ways than one.  

The ones that show up for a while 

This is a funny one. Do all of these friends have an impact on your life? I don’t know for sure, although I do know that these types of friends have taught me more lessons than some boys about the joys of relationships! 

I have seen so many ‘friendships’ that fizzled out after a short time, mainly due to the temporary nature of Dubai, but also some that were around from as long as I can remember and, I thought, were going to be around forever. You need these friends, not physically, but to have lived and learned…

Not all of these friendships turn toxic. You just grow apart and, when a ‘stage’ of your life is over, they are no longer a part of it. You were, however, still lucky to have known them. They may be the people you partied with at university, or the old lady that worked beside you on your weekend job helping you through the hangover. They are the ones that we allow into our lives, sometimes completely and sometimes selectively, for just a ‘stage’ but not forever. For the ones that do end badly; they are the ones that teach us about the friend we never want to be. The ones that we will compare our amazing friends to. 

Despite all of this, or how your friendship came to end, they are the friends that you still think of fondly because, at some point or another, they were a huge part of your life. 

The ones that turn up unexpectedly 

This one is my favourite, simply because I have so many! I cannot begin to explain the amount of times that I am confident my luck in finding lasting friendships is over and then, out of the blue, someone new shows up. They may be people you meet through other friends or people you share hobbies with. Personally, these people show up in my life because I get to work with new people every year. These friends always start as colleagues, some then fall into the ‘show up for a while’ category, but there are always one or two that slip through the net and straight into my heart as a friend for life.

They are the ones that are your ‘here and now.’ They know your life as it is at this moment. While they may not have ever met your grandparents or been to a family celebration, they are the people you need at that time, for whatever reason, and in that given time, end up proving they are worth keeping. These ones win your heart in a very short space of time; they don’t have a lifetime to prove their worth, maybe only a few months or years, but if they do it, they do it right! They also turn up later in life, when you’ve done your living and learning, and know exactly what you want in a friendship. These friends will one day be friends ‘for as long as you can remember,’ albeit when you are old and senile and lucky to remember your own name!

Yes, having the same friend at every stage of your life is cool, but making new friends at every stage is just as fun too! If you have any friend that you know will be around forever then count yourself lucky, no matter how, why, where or when they showed up.