Unless one says goodbye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and an eventual extinction. – Jean Debuffet
It’s been four weeks since I made my move to live and work here in Tanzania. As a person who has long embraced her wanderlust and moved multiple times in her lifetime, this next move has followed the same recognisable routine. It has also brought with it the same mixture of feelings and emotions that have accompanied all other moves.
Making a change like this can be both wonderful and traumatising. While the decision to move here and change my world around one more time was entirely mine, there are elements of this process that are always going to be tough. I was talking with a friend of mine online today and she hit the nail on the head relating this experience to her own relocation to Australia a number of years ago.
She was shocked – how can that be traumatic? Well, the deliberate cutting off of yourself from your beloved community, having to reinvent yourself and be on ‘charming mode’ 24/7 to try and win friends! It just leaves you feeling empty and bereft.
While I am endlessly thankful for the wonders of technology and being able to Skype my family and friends back home, the fact remains that I am no longer a part of the day-to-day community there and I am now building up my place in my new community. On top of starting a new job, there’s also a 24/7 charm offensive that I need to stay focused on and trying to always be the most open and friendly version of me that I can when I am meeting the vast array of new people and potential friends. There’s the storytelling and the ‘explaining me’ part that is exhausting and I know over the coming months I’ll be thankful for the grounding conversations with my people who know me completely and to whom I never have to explain where I’m coming from.
Having been through this process many times before, I know that this initial time is always tough and that in a matter of weeks I will feel a lot more ‘at home’ in my new home. As I start to learn people’s stories and tell them my own, I will find kindred spirits and people who I can rely on, and I will start to build another beloved community around me here.