Anyone who’s lived in Ibiza for some time will understand the joys of constantly having to clear up the misconceptions that your life is a non-stop party. Or that you don’t ever have to work (well, there are plenty of people here who don’t – but those of us who do regularly get lumped into the trustafarian category with them). That you’re always at the beach. That it’s always summer. That you eat out every night. That you’re able to get instant access to wristbands/drinks tickets/guest list/discounts (and again, some people are but not ALL of us). If only life were that easy…
Over the weekend, I attended a party where I spent a lot of time justifying my existence over here. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – I had been catching up with a lot of former island acquaintances who’d returned to Ibiza for a very special celebration for some mutual friends. I mean really, you can’t expect friends of friends to know the ins and outs of your life (and let’s be honest, do I know what they all do for a living? No!). In those cases, it’s kind of nice taking the time to let people know what you really do. I’m proud of all the things I’ve achieved in the past 11 years. But that’s not where I felt a bit miffed about the misconceptions. It all started with a random WhatsApp message, from an old acquaintance who I hadn’t heard from in more than a decade, about a week before the event…
‘What’s up Miss W?’ it read (note: this person actually used my real name, which made me suspicious from the get-go). I wondered how they had gotten my phone number. It was followed shortly by: ‘How’s Ibiza life treating you?’ And before I could reply, the punch line was immediately delivered – the sender was coming over to Ibiza to visit. And they wanted a party partner on the day before their group of mates arrived. Well, I thought to myself after initially getting upset that people from my home country think of me as nothing more than a party girl, I guess it’s nice to be remembered, if not for my skills or talent, for my sparkling personality. But when I explained to the sender that I was just not up for a clubbing session these days, particularly not on a school night (so to speak) – suggesting a civilised dinner or drinks instead – they still pushed for the party. ‘Oh come on, it’s just one night.’ Which turned into a request for guest list. Which is quite often (Ibiza people, you’ll feel me on this one) followed by a request for party favours, which is something I definitely do not and cannot accommodate, ever!
Ok hang on a minute, let me just climb down off my high horse… When you live in Ibiza, you have to accept this is something that will happen all summer long. Friends pass your contact details onto Ibiza newbies, or onto old friends who are holidaying on the white isle and all of a sudden you’re receiving random requests for boat charters, villas, guest lists, restaurants from people you’ve never met – thankfully, there’s a wonderful website that helps with all of those things, so generally for me it’s as easy as sending a link, which I am always happy to do. But then come the inevitable ‘can you get me a discount’ questions when people find out you run the aforementioned site. Can my friend leave her luggage at your house for a day? Should I order the steak or the duck? What time is Sven Vath playing at the after party? And these messages come at obscure times of day – generally I’m either in the thick of writing something or fast asleep, depending on the time zone of the person!
That’s the most common kind of misconception – that you have nothing to do but give travel advice and be there to help with a party. We all get used to it. But when you find out that someone you have known for many years in Ibiza thinks you do nothing but ‘write a little blog’ – which was something I also discovered over the weekend – it really makes you wonder. Am I not promoting myself well enough? Perhaps that’s the problem with using a pen name – you don’t get recognition for all the other things you do. This particular friend asked me if I wasn’t bored after all these years… my reaction was basically my jaw hitting the floor. Bored? In Ibiza? I can assure you, I would never ever get bored in Ibiza, not in a million years (“Only boring people get bored,” my very good friend Mr B often says, and it always echoes in my head).
Oh, how I wish I could spend my days tap tap tapping away at my keyboard like Ibiza’s very own version of a Carrie Bradshaw, doing nothing but blogging. I’d love to be some kind of highly-paid Ibiza anthropologist, sharing my opinions as and when they pop into my head (and trust me, I have so many that never make it to the blog!) and just generally being able to write whatever I want, whenever I want, about whoever I want and having a platform to publish it on. But in reality, that’s just journaling, and there are very few writers in the world who get the opportunity to do this (and make a living). In actual fact, I spend most of my time in meetings (oh-so-many meetings), strategising, planning, styling photoshoots, selecting photos, editing other people’s copy, emailing (oh-so-many emails), managing a team of people, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. Writing this ‘little blog’ is my favourite two-hour window in the week!
‘I still can’t believe you’ve made a life for yourself over there,’ was another message I recently received from a former work colleague on the other side of the world. But what do they MEAN by that? I stewed to myself one night while furiously typing emails and basically doing everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph. ‘It must be so much fun,’ they counter, when I ask what they mean. Really, I know they mean well. They romanticise Ibiza in a way I never can. After a while, you learn to let it go. You take a step back from being offended by the notion you spend your life beneath a disco ball or chasing sunsets when really, you’d love to be recognised for your contribution to society, or the idea you don’t work and have a perma-tan when the beach is the furthest thing from your normal life even in the height of summer.
And when I do take this step back, when I remove myself from the situation and I put myself in the shoes of the people/person sending me messages, I start to truly understand the deeper nature of what it is that riles me up. It’s not the misconceptions about my own life – as we’ve established, I can clear those up in a few messages or a quick conversation. It’s that I love this island. I love living on this island. I love working on this island. I love the people of this island. And sometimes the thought that people around the world see it as frivolous or see the island as just a party place or a summer holiday destination upsets me. Because Ibiza is so much more than that. That’s why (and how) I’ve made a life for myself here. But then I think to myself… perhaps it’s better that so many people still think this way. Because if everyone knew what I knew… well, there just wouldn’t be enough room on the island for us all to live!