So you want to be an Island Girl. Good choice! Unfortunately, it is not as simple as stepping off an airplane into humid, salty air someplace in the middle of a vast body of water. (Nothing on an island is that easy, my friend.)
Of course, the plane arrival is always the first step toward island girl status (unless you were born on a rock…in which case, lucky you!). Let me be the first to warmly welcome you to the tribe! However, it’s going to take a bit more work (and suffering & sacrifice) to gain the coveted capital “I” and “G” in the title. I told you things weren’t so easy. The good news is that it is totally doable, as proven by the countless Island Girls who are wearing the crown proudly (albeit perched in a messy bun) on rocks far and wide. #lifegoals
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
When you first move to a rock, you find amusement (and frustration) in even the most mundane things. After all, everything is so new and different to how things happen “back home.” The novelty of it all has an incredible power to entertain. Or seriously piss you off. It all depends on the day, your mood and, possibly, how hungover you happen to be. (Ok…that last one might just be me…or not. #nojudgmentzone)
So you bee-bop through your days, enjoying every absurd moment of this new life you’ve claimed for yourself. Occasionally cursing about (or at…always a very, very bad idea) some ridiculous situation unfolding before you. Then you go to the beach and forget all about whatever it was that frustrated you. Until the next time it happens.
But then one day – a few years into your rock tenure – you wake up and realize that the things you once found unusual or funny or marvelously ridiculous are part and parcel of your everyday life now. You no longer have the “shock and awe” feeling wash over you when something truly absurd unfolds before your no-longer-wondering eyes. Instead, you just accept it as your new normal and go about your day. It is at this point, my friends, that you that you have become (cue dramatic music)…dum dum dummmm…a true Island Girl (with capital letters!).
For the casual observer, it may be hard to distinguish the newbie island girl from the “scarred by years on a rock” version wearing the capital letters crown. Hell, sometimes it is hard for the island girl herself to notice the difference. After all, both versions still frequent the beach, clutch cocktails at random hours of the day and wear bikini tops in lieu of bras. Superficially at least, the two are one. And it is fine if outsiders can’t tell the difference anyway. After all, why do they care? To them, we’re all living the dream. Every damn day, right?
But if you happen to be the island girl in the midst of the metamorphosis from naive newbie to the crown-wearing empress of island life, you may wish to know more about the signs that indicate your transformation is complete.
You No Longer Lose It In Absurd Bureaucratic Situations
Remember those first days on the island? The ones where you innocently wandered into a government office or the bank to take care of what you considered a simple administrative task? One that should take you, max, 30 minutes? Like opening a checking account? Or submitting your residency application?
Remember how it didn’t take long for you to understand how things really work on an island. After your first few rounds of taking a number and waiting…and waiting…and waiting…only to be told you don’t have the right paperwork or you can’t submit that particular paperwork on Wednesdays (the day you happen to be there) or that you are actually at the wrong window or the wrong office altogether…you start to realize that the wheels of bureaucracy don’t actually turn in the tropics. They wobble and grind and fall off. It’s all that salty air.
When you get to the point where nothing that happens in any official scenario has the capacity to bewilder or surprise or shock or anger you, you have earned the official Island Girl crown. If you can laugh and find it all so, so very endearing, you get to wave the palm frond scepter, too. Congrats.
You Get A Thrill When There Is Food In The Grocery Store
Ah yes, the grocery store. A blog post unto itself.
Back where you came from, the idea of your local big box store not having exactly what you want – in sixteen varieties – was something you simply couldn’t fathom. And why would you? The mainland is a feast of excess. In every way. But you left that all behind, didn’t you? So let’s go back to your early days on a tropical island. When you made the initial discovery that…you can’t always get what you want. Especially when it comes to food.
You likely stood bewildered in your new grocery store’s teeny-tiny aisle, in a state of near panic, frantic to figure out how you could possibly cross all those items off the wrinkled shopping list you were clutching in your sweaty palm. The list that you carefully wrote at home while dreams of a particular evening meal danced in your head. But then reality struck, under the unforgiving fluorescent lights of the grocery store aisles. The ones stretched out before you with seemingly empty shelves, sporadically dotted with indecipherable items that most definitely were not on your prepared list. Cock soup, anyone?
Fast forward a few years later. You once again find yourself in the same grocery store, expecting the usual feelings of disappointment and dulled resentment. But instead, to your utter amazement and shock, you discover fully stocked shelves, a produce department bursting with color and a dairy section so heaping with products that the lactose-intolerant shoppers are weeping with jealousy. When the usually mundane act of finding cheddar cheese or a red bell pepper or flavored almond milk has you feeling like you won the lottery and met the person of your dreams all at once, I must offer my congratulations…you have earned the capital “I” and “G” in the Island Girl title.
You No Longer Sweat The Small Stuff…You Just Sweat
Remember all those things you used to worry about back home? And probably still worried a tiny bit about in your first few months on an island? Little things like, you know, being on time or not taking a roadie with you in the car or whether your shoes matched your outfit. Yeah…none of that matters on an island. At least not mine. (If it matters on yours, you chose poorly. #sorrynotsorry) In fact, there isn’t a whole helluva lot that does matter enough to get you riled up on a rock. It is just too damn hot anyway, isn’t it?
The truth of island living is that there are not too many things you need to spend time agonizing over – big or small. What you’ll eventually come to understand is that every situation resolves itself. Somehow. This includes, but is not limited to, the size of your bank account, what you’ll do for work, how to handle that one other island dweller who drives you nuts (but you can’t avoid) & why it is taking so damn long for your business permit to be approved. The list goes on. And on.
But at the end of the day, if my track record is any proof, every single situation that you work up the energy to worry about always, always, always works itself out. And life goes on, and you go to the beach. So really, what is the point of worrying? You still will, of course, because that is human nature. But I’d encourage you not to expend too much energy on such a pointless act.
Because you don’t control a damn thing on a tropical rock. Sad, but true, especially for the Type A souls among us (raises hand). The best you can do is plan a little bit and prepare (which all island girls become experts at, by the way) and hope for the best.
When you achieve the zen-like status of understanding that there is no reason whatsoever to get angry, frustrated or upset about virtually anything that transpires in the slice of paradise you voluntarily call home, then go forth and proclaim yourself a true Island Girl (capital letters and all). You’ve earned the title, my friend.
Wear that damn crown loud and proud, and be the fierce, fabulous Island Girl you were always destined to be. Just be careful with that scepter.
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I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.
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