It was quite the experience, an experience unequalled. The changes came fast and furious. The choice to face the changes were mine. You can easily underestimate how adaptability is the prerogative of the young.
After decades living under a shell, contained in an environment which lulled me into a sense of safety and certainty, I had opted for change. When you throw off the shell you are bare and exposed. But I needed to learn how to embrace change.
You would think that a healthy amount of travel all over the world and immersing myself in diverse experiences, from a very young age, would have prepared me. After all, the previous twenty years of my troubled life had me doing things, going through a series of changes that my peers very wisely, postponed to a much later stage in their lives.
I was not prepared. Moving across the world was a shock to the system. Imagine yourself on a roller-coaster with the wind beating at you. Your face whipped by cold gusts as you gasp for air and try to anticipate the next sudden twist, turn or stomach-wrenching plunge. This analogy describes my experience of completely and permanently moving to a new country.
Going to a new place means re-establishing your reputation. If you start off in a new place, as a cash-strapped single parent, whose child support dried up, you are at a disadvantage. When you can only succeed with the help of your new spouse and some extremely compassionate relatives from both ends of the world, it is a challenge. If your health had deteriorated as you took on the transition, you get the idea.
Yet, this very exposure is rather like being a newborn babe. You are forced to look at yourself without the layers. You must confront yourself and see what lies within…your values, your goals, your very humanity. What I found was me, without the make-up, the power-suits or the glossy veneer of upper middle-class wealth.
There was less fear of not being accepted. I only needed to be accepted by those who really wanted to befriend a real person, instead of an image or a facade. That gnawing need to be well-liked at the risk of not being yourself takes a toll on you.
I had also rediscovered God and gratitude.
Was I disappointed at times?
Yes. Not everyone welcomes you. Not everyone can look past differences. But I was born and had grown up as a minority in another country. I had, at times, seen prejudice, racism and dislike. And I had learnt to be adaptable, to mold myself into the space and be a chameleon at times. This challenge was nothing new.
I also had to retain my core values and not lose my true being. I learnt, that in striking that balance, you are like a magnet. You repel those who are not good for your own growth and attract those who sync with you.
What you need are good, sincere, people to reach out to you and be there in your life. They are really the only ones that matter. You also need to welcome growth, change and an evolution of yourself. This is the self who goes on the soul journey. This is the self who recognizes that sometimes, change is necessary, if you want to achieve the best version of yourself. I was being Captain of My Soul.
The most important lesson I learnt in my move to a new country is that you cannot expect to discover new worlds and blossom in the process, if you cling to what is familiar. I can say with great certainty that, indeed, it is only when we lose sight of the shore, that we discover new oceans, new horizons and new adventures.
All these, in turn, will allow us to discover things about ourselves. Things we will never know if we had remained stagnant, stuck on that same shore. And then, we are renewed and restored.
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