I finally realized that if you want to become a mature person you need to kill this part of yourself known as ‘EGO’.
I know, I was born without an ego or identity.
I slowly developed one and it latched onto every part of my life – status in life, ideals, belief, etc.
Eventually these things became part of me, defined me and allowed people to make sketch of my image, scold me for God’s sake and what not?
They formed my ego and things I associated myself with as my identity.
Moving to France and leaving my hometown and all that’s familiar was hard enough, but fun!
That was a whole different ballgame because it began with the airport, followed by flirtatious people’s look in the Parisian RER.
The only way to stay truly happy was to kill my ego – I had to become completely unafraid of failure and rejection because I had nothing to lose, I had nothing to prove to ANYONE.
I realized that the only reason people get fearful in certain life situations is because they feel it will negatively affect their identity aka hurt their ego.
Back to the title of this post.
How did it affect my Parisian Expatriation adventure?
Seven years after I moved to Paris, here are the eight main ways my Ego almost killed my Parisian Expatriate's Adventure.
1. My ego wouldn’t recognize how much I needed to learn.
Admitting you need ‘to learn’ is not a weakness because many people out there think they have an answer to every question. Their ego has convinced them they knew everything there’s to know.
And in most cases, this is a huge lie.
Listening to others with the intention of learning something new is one of the best ways to improve oneself.
Surely, you may be judged badly if you ask somehow ‘stupid” questions but don’t be afraid of creating learning opportunities for yourself by asking questions...
There is a quote which says that “if you ask you look like an idiot for a moment and if you don’t you’ll become idiot forever”
I didn’t know that learning by asking questions would help me keep my ego in its place.
2. My Ego Made me ignore opportunities.
Here’s a thing.
A change in any area of my comfort constituted a serious and direct threat to my security. Yet within this realm of fear, there was one other kind of change that was even more threatening and this was any confrontation which needed some kind of inner change; anything that necessitated an adjustment of the belief in myself.
Basically, my ego was what I’d call my “identifying labels” which was my "beliefs" (among other things).
At times, I’d mistakenly come to believe that I was those labels; that my beliefs about my “self” defined all that I could ever be. This actually became true because I was unwilling to change; to re-define those beliefs, to challenge them and in doing so push out the limits of those beliefs. This egoist structure represented the greatest obstacle to my ability and willingness to change.
It made me miss a lot of opportunities.
3. My Ego made me over-estimate my abilities.
When I arrived in Paris, I thought I was smart enough to figure out everything I needed to make things work. HA!
Moving to another country isn’t an easy task.
I realized that the culture and traditions were really different though my early “honeymoon” days were marked by unforgettable experiences.
I was over-confident.
But, I was actually fooling myself.
Although a self-confidence attitude is important as one moves out, it's all the same important to be cautious and never over-estimate what one can do.
I failed to call on experts for help on different matters especially those related to the French Bureaucracy.
My Ego fouled me.
I was unafraid to learn how things work here but I ended up learning it the hard way.
I ended up contacting a friend who had lived in Paris for long and knew this city pretty well.
He helped me.
This is when I finally realized that I needed to be surrounded by several people like this friend.
I stopped overstimating my abilities.
This taught me a lesson. I needed to humble myself and ask for an advice whenever I needed one.
4. My ego wouldn’t let me ask for help.
We wrote about these French officials of foreign origins that made it in France, praising their courage and hard work but, I thought there’s one topic that we should have mentioned in there. All of these people had mentors and close friends that helped them get where they are now.
These people got help from experienced and skilled friends and mentors.
My Ego made me forget that.
When I moved to France, I didn’t understand how things worked here.
I should’ve gotten myself a mentor, a friend, a colleague I could turn to for help.
I needed a coach but my Ego wouldn't let me recognize that fact.
5. I couldn’t back down, I had to ‘win.’
“You are always right”.
That’s what my ego would always tell me which meant - while having a discussion or argument on life in France for instance - focusing more on talking without listening to the other person.
At times, I’d meet people that couldn’t stand being wrong and without even questioning my arguments, asking myself how accurate my point was, I’d just keep fighting on and arguing just to make a point.
I had to win.
And looking at this behavior now, I don’t think I won anything!
I actually never won!
6. I felt elevated from gossiping about other Parisian expats’ flaws.
If you surfed the internet (especially on Social Media), you’d read stories of people that moved to Paris and got hit by the culture shock. Some of these people survived it but others got hit so hard that their recovery came in slowly or never came at all.
Often times, when one hates it here, they either leave or stay; living a really miserable life cursing the French bureaucracy and French people in general.
You can tell that they’re unhappy here or/and depressed!
Reading these comments, I’d judge these people; calling them names; “losers” or “good for nothing” till the day when my “honeymoon” period expired and I started facing reality.
This is the period of my expatriation adventure when I needed help the most.
This is when I realized how easy it can be to get caught into depression.
It’s a delicate moment for every expat.
7. I felt jealous when other Parisian Expat entrepreneurs would say how well they were doing.
Jealousy and envy seemed to be two of the most common—yet really negative — emotions I used to have.
For a long time, both of these destructive feelings overwhelmed and poisoned me.
I finally gained control over them.
But it wasn’t easy. I have to say it’s not easy.
I started learning the difference between competition and comparisons. I ended up understanding that a comparison is repulsive and, since both jealousy and envy are all about comparisons, I was about to get myself in a game that wasn’t going to take me anywhere.
I wanted to be as successful as them in business and many other life aspects until I realized that I was comparing myself to them.
I have learned that comparisons can be odious.
8. I used to blame others when things didn’t go my way.
I used to blame everyone around me as soon as anything bad happened.
While the habit of blaming others became very normal to me, I couldn’t see one common reason behind it, but instead, there were a lot of different reasons that made me blame others including the end of the “honeymoon” period, facing the French bureaucracy among others.
Understanding these reasons was one of the things that helped me deal with my ego.
By drawing my attention to the real reasons behind my behavior, I started realizing how wrong I was and started working towards improving.
After seven years of expatriate’s life in the City of Lights, I can now say that I basically wanted to have total control over things and since this couldn’t happen all the time, I’d panic and blame people around me.
Was this an arm to control others by blaming them?
Was I in total denial?
Working on myself in fixing my egocentric behaviors was very exhausting.
I didn’t do it all at once.
I took a journey to fix this problem.
I had to go on a step-by-step journey, in very small, manageable steps.
I tend to think that, even as I’m writing this post, my ego is fighting to control me!
What’s the best way for an expat to deal with Ego?
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