Hello beautiful people!
It’s been so long since I last wrote… 3 months I think!
July disappeared to packing and planning a Minecraft themed birthday party (!) –
August went to The Move, and ALL the unpacking –
– and most of September has disappeared to adjusting to the new school year, and trying to remember what routine looks like!
Anyway, here we are (in the Northern hemisphere) on the cusp of Autumn (or Fall) and I’m wondering what’s been changing for you?
For so many of us growing up, Summer was the time of change – international moves aligned with school years and this transition season was marked by both endings and beginnings. It’s not unusual for a lot of Third Culture Kids to feel antsy this time of year, to feel the familiar itchy feet or ticking of that internal clock (whichever metaphor suits you best!)
I’ve found this season of transition challenging for so many reasons.
Firstly, because it’s been a blatantly positive transition.
Bear with me. This is challenging because I’m wired to focus on the positives of change. By this I mean that I carry (as do many of my kind!) an innate need to focus on the good of change as a means of coping with it. I remind myself that I am incredibly lucky to have made this house move, that it’s in a part of the country I really enjoy, that it’s all going very well and that I’m fortunate to be able to do this.
This positive focus means that when I experience tiredness (unpacking is hard!) or frustration (why did my washing machine have to explode now?!) or fear (what if I never see my friends again?) I also feel shame. I SHOULD be grateful. Not stressed. Who gets stressed by positive transition?!
Secondly, because it’s both change and continuity.
I grew up change on a grand scale. You didn’t just change school, you changed country. You didn’t just change house, you changed landscape. You didn’t just change friends, you changed language. It was never one change, it was all of them – like a domino effect. But now? Now I can change just one thing. Transition can happen in the broader context of continuity. And yes I’m being simplistic here – in a sense any small change has a ripple out effect onto everything else. But when you grow up with tidal waves of change, a ripple is strangely underwhelming… and almost eerie.
I have a new home, but the same friends. I have a new office but the same job. I have a new space, but I have ALL my stuff with me (who else remembers packing things away for years at a time?) I have a new office but I’m the old me. No reinventing, no starting again, no period of watching to figure things out before I show up. Just carrying on. It’s strange how much impact a ripple can make.
Finally, this transition has reminded me how little patience I can have with PROCESS.
I’ve observed this in many of us actually, that we often find the ‘in-between’ spaces hard. The packing up. The unpacking. The not-quite-figured-it-out spaces. We often find ourselves just wanting the end product to materialise – the new life – fully formed and taken shape. So we know where we stand. So we can perceive our new role, our new script, and take our place on the new stage with confidence.
This improv, collaborative, workshopping process deal can feel like a hot mess.
The process of settling, of finding our feet, of playing out an old life in a new space – it’s challenging. It can feel impossible to get any of our identities ‘right’ because we still can’t quite figure out where that book is, or where the plates live, or how the hot water works. The process is messy and interferes with my desire for ‘new office, new me’.
So if you have found yourself in transition this summer, I wonder what the challenges of this have been for you? And if you have found yourself in sameness – I ask the same question of you too.
And I greet you, with compassion both, from my new office and my old self.