Stranger in a Strange Land

(video courtesy of youtube)

Ladies aaaaaaand gentleman, step right up! Come see the freak of nature!

She’s a personal trainer who actually thinks she can make a living that way! She thinks you have to know what you’re doing when you work out! She drives in the snow! She walks to the grocery store! You won’t believe your eyes, folks. A bona fide city slicker, right here in our midst! You can talk to her!

My new money-making idea: I’ll charge people five bucks each to come gawk at me and tell me that the only money in Asheville is in the service industry.

These days, I’m feeling like an alien. I know nobody and nobody knows me. This town is all about the “community,” the “word-of-mouth,” the “I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine.” Well, that all sounds great for a struggling entrepreneur. But right now it feels like a clique that I can’t get into. If Asheville were Heathers, I’d be Veronica.

Turns out I have little value to new gyms because I can’t bring in any existing clients. But I don’t have any clients because I can’t get in front of gym members. I keep knocking at the door even though it keeps closing in my face. I have been told at least once daily that I’m going to have to wait tables. “That’s what everyone has to do here.” Hmmm, no offense Asheville, but I am not everyone. I refuse to accept that as my fate. Here’s the real bitch of it though: even if I wanted to wait tables (and I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t), I couldn’t get a job, because you have to know the “right people” for that, too.

Where did I move to, L.A.?

To add to my frustration, today marks the first real Snow Day of the season. Except….there’s not very much snow. I couldn’t go out this morning because last night there were like forty wrecks in an inch of snow. People, please! This is very hard for an Ohio girl with a December birthday. I learned to drive in the snow. I then spent several years in the city, relying on public transportation. And when it snowed, I bundled up and got where I needed to get, snow or no.

Granted, in Boston there is much silliness about the snow, and cleanup is not what you would expect from a New England town. But people do go to work in the winter. Colleges don’t close because of a flurry.

I’m so tired of everything being so difficult. I’m tired of not having a career. I’m tired of hearing the same shit from everyone I talk to. Here’s a sampling:

-It’s really tough to find a job in Asheville.
-Service industry. That’s where the money is.
-It’s a different market down here. The fitness industry is not the same.
-Do you want to join my pyramid scheme?
-Yeah, the first year in Asheville is really hard.
-That’s just what people do here. The service industry is full of people who can’t find work in their field.
-You just have to be positive!

It’s been three months. In the scheme of things, I suppose that’s not very long. But I’ve had at least one job since I was 15. Three months out of work is seriously messing with my sense of self-worth. Yeah, I know I should be positive. I know that I am in charge of my own destiny, that if I put out negative I’ll get negative back, and if I put out positive then the universe will help me. Blah, blah, blah.

YOU try it.

And there it is. I am alienated and alienating. It is a self-fulfilling, self-propelled, vicious cycle. And I am trying to break it. Really, I am. But it’s hard. I ask a great deal of myself. Network, stay positive, start a business, earn money, stay in shape, eat healthy, take care of Matthew and the cat, be okay even though you’re not okay. Be happy.

I try. But sometimes, it’s just too much for little old me.

I usually try to avoid blog entries like this. I don’t like reading overly personal or angry blogs, so why would I write one? I like to set a more positive tone, for two reasons. 1) It makes me feel better, and 2) I don’t want to bum out my readers, or worse — lose them entirely. But I am nothing if not authentic. So today, loyal readers and fellow members of the blogosphere, I apologize. I just don’t have it in me this morning. What I can do instead is offer a discussion prompt:

Use the comment box below to describe a time in your life when you felt like a stranger.  Maybe your story will help someone else feel a little less strange.


About Samantha Pollack

In 2010 I abandoned my city-slicker, Bostonian ways in exchange for a life of adventure in Asheville, NC. I'm a book-slaying, cat-owning, olive-loving, trail-running, movie-watching writer and holistic health coach. Hi.
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2 Responses to Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. Reeeeebecca says:

    Okay, I have one. So I moved to Boston and only knew two people…granted one of them was my sister, but I still only knew two people. I lived in a basement…I mean, “garden level” apartment where the only way in was through a really scary alley. The only thing I had going for me was Maggiano’s – thanks Sam 🙂 And also thanks for finding me a place to live – it wasn’t really that bad, except for the silverfish. And the alley.
    But anyway, after 3 months in the basement, I moved to Cambridge, where I also knew no one. During Christmastime I used to walk the long way to the T after work so I could spend more time looking at the lights in the Common and Beacon Hill and less time at home by myself. I loved those Christmas lights. One night I went for a walk in my beloved Harvard Sq., just because I was bored. I ended up making some very random friends with some random people and street performers outside of the Harvard Sq. T stop. For some reason, those people that I never saw again made me feel really good, and I went home that night feeling a little less lonely.
    I guess you can’t move somewhere new without feeling alone and totally unproductive for a little while. Does “it’s normal” ever make anyone feel better? Probably not, but at least you’re not alone in being lonely.

  2. Claire says:

    Ok here’s mine….

    I moved to L.A. in search of a life of skydiving with one friend and one sister (kinda funny huh Becca? And we LOVED having you at Maggianos:). And then the worst thing happen: the friend turned on me. All of the sudden I was the greedy friend trying to ‘steal’ all of her friends that she had spent years developing. The kicker is, she had hired me at the restaurant they all worked at and invited me along for all the fun, so….huh??!! We’re not in high school anymore chick. Worst time of my life. Lonely at home, at work….really bad. Then I got married to fill that gap. Continue worst time ever. But out of nowhere empowerment rose, I made some sweet life changes, rekindled with the friend, and am now quite possibly the happiest yet. I don’t even know where the gumption came from to make it through all of that and find myself, but it was there. You got it too chick:)

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