When Mr. Wanderlust and I officially announced to a small number of close friends our intention to relocate from Canada to New Zealand, many expressed admiration at our courage.
“I must say,” one friend told us over brunch last December in Toronto, “many people dream and speak of someday moving to and starting a new life in a different country. You guys are actually going through with it. That takes guts.”
Others told us how nervous they would be about the mere thought of making such a move.
Here is something that I don’t often share when talking about our Big Move. It was relatively smooth from conception. We say our thanks every night for how fortunate we feel to have had everything go as well as it has thus far. However, that does not mean that we did not sometimes have second thoughts related to career changes and the change to a different educational system for our children. Similarly, we considered carefully the implications of leaving behind our family and friends and having to start building a new social circle in a new home. The question of social interactions, in particular, sometimes brings on a fair amount of anxiety.
There are days when I feel vulnerable and homesick. On those days, one obscure harsh word from a stranger — in yesterday’s case a woman at the supermarket who yelled at me for blocking her way — is enough to make me want to lock myself in the walk-in closet with a whole bar of dark chocolate and a giant pot of tea. As a HSP and INFP, I work hard to read others, especially if they are not open with me. I replay conversations in my mind that I had the day before with other school mums, wondering whether I might have said something that was misunderstood or committed another faux pas. The cultures in NZ and Canada don’t clash in a blatant way, but sometimes the differences are apparent.
And then, on other days, I enjoy a pleasant chat with another mum over peppermint tea while our children play in her backyard, leaving me feeling lighthearted and at peace.
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the choice to pick ourselves up and move forward, regardless of those pangs of fear. We all feel nervous about certain changes. Some of us have also had to learn to be good at hiding that nervousness. However, there are three other lessons that have always kept me moving forward through various challenges that I have faced: Curiosity, Equanimity, and Faith. I give myself permission to sit with the experience, to feel the myriad emotions. I allow the thoughts to swirl. Then, I work to detach myself from them. I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions. They do not define me. I remind myself that all those experiences and challenges are fleeting and every day brings new surprises. I remind myself of the challenges I have faced in the past and how they have made me stronger. I have been reminding myself, as of late, of the time when, as a teenager, I worked to make friends at a new school, in a new country, while learning a new language. Everything worked out for the best. It always does, especially when we remember to let go of concerns about the outcome.
Yesterday, I spent some time on the floor of the closet, eating 70% chocolate, drinking rooibos tea, and journaling to sort through my jumbled thoughts. This morning, I am ready to be the best version of myself and that, my friends, takes courage. As for change? It takes time, patience, and a fair amount of guts. One day at a time.
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Spotted at a Starbucks in Dundas, Ontario two weeks ago, which means there are now fewer than 15 Fridays left to shop before Christmas. That’s great, but let’s focus on the here and now, folks. Wishing you a Mindful Monday.