Ru Paul says that if you can’t love yourself then how in the HEEEEELLL you gon love someone else?!
(Can I get an AMEN?!)
I didn’t realise how much I needed to hear this, until some of my closest told me the same thing. I’ve always been a bit of a floater. I didn’t love myself because, well, I didn’t know myself – I was a bit… lost.
After going through a period of self-assessment (having an identity crisis and reading lots of mindfulness books), I came to the conclusion as to why I have always felt a little lost, and for me, it came down to two factors.
- I don’t know what I want to do
- I don’t know where I want to be
Languages are my passion, and I think I speak for a lot of grads when I say after four years of learning a language (or two), my eyes were opened to the world, I had had the time of my life, and yet was left with z e r o idea of what to do with my honed skills and hungry attitude.
If you check out my post on life right after graduation, you’ll know that this thirst to learn more (and earn more), led me to working in the city, before making the move to another – Madrid. Skip a few years, a few roles and a couple of moves (abroad) later, I felt richer in life experience, but somehow back in a similar position of not knowing what to do… The only thing that had remained a real constant was my love for languages, travel and of course, writing . I needed a little push in the right direction.
“Yes that’s great and all, but WHO are you writing this for? WHO is your audience? WHO do you think will want to read what you write?”
Ouch. The career adviser was hard-going, but I give it to her; she really made me think about what I wanted (in general) and also, what I wanted from my writing. Ergo here we are, with a concrete purpose and sense of direction; and this is the idea behind my blog; I’m writing for those twenty-somethings who haven’t quite figured out what life is about yet, except for the fact they would like to enjoy it for all it’s worth, working out the adult stuff along the way. For those who were or are a little lost in life. Also for anyone else who wants to come along for the ride that is my quarter-life crisis.
There’s tales of woe, near-misses (flights) and heartbreak, but mainly mischief, friendships and adventure – everything a bestseller boasts.
I’m pretty (100%) certain I suffer from imposter syndrome, and it’s something that I feel language learners in particular can relate to (Oh my god my accent doesn’t sound EXACTLY like the locals – they must think I’m an incompetent FOOL). This brings me onto my second issue – where do I belong? Being so exposed to another culture has made me question my own identity, and if I’m being honest, I don’t feel completely at home in one particular place, but rather, a mix of a few. Speaking to friends with a similar background, I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I want this blog to be for these people too – those interested in travel, those who wish to travel more, those thinking of making ‘the move’, and those who are travelling but perhaps struggling with the hardships that come from being a ‘world citizen’. What do you do when you want to be everywhere at once? Where is your sense of belonging? Where does the line of integration cross the boundaries of your own identity?
Learning a language and discovering new cultures is something that changes an individual, and I don’t think this is talked about enough; not enough people discuss the expat effect – I’m not talking about missing your builder’s tea and bourbons, or even the convenience of living in the same city as friends – I’m talking about the way a place can change you, your way of thinking, and whether this is something you should immerse yourself in or perhaps be wary of?
From my experience, I can say the languages I’ve learnt and the cultures I’ve adapted to have enriched me immensely, in many areas, but I can’t deny that I’ve partly lost myself along the way. And should this be classed as a loss or is it simply personal development, or perhaps a psychological symptom of the travel bug?
I think the key for me is striking the balance between being completely open and willing to adapt to a new culture, and keeping true to yourself and your beliefs at the same time. This is something I struggled with particularly when living abroad for a long amount of time, and I would love to hear if others have had a similar experience or a different one altogether (please comment and let me know!!)
How do you accept that things are ‘the way they are’ in a new place without becoming trapped in the new mindset bubble – Do you really believe in this way of thinking, or are you just acting on what your current surroundings are portraying as the norm?
How do you stay true to yourself while integrating into a new way of life?
Accept or adapt altogether? How far do you go?
How can you know who you are when who you are is always changing?
Who feels more lost now than they did at the beginning of this post?
This hot mess was brought to you by Sam’s Sunday evening breakdown special. You’ve been an incredible audience.
If you made it this far, thank you for sticking with me on this journey – I think it’s safe to say that even though I now have more of a purpose (writing is the one – Yay!), I’m still a little wanderlost. And that’s ok! The more I travel, the more I discover about myself, and I’ve found this curiosity only fuels my desire to explore further.
Please subscribe and stay tuned for more drama. I might even find the answers to some of these questions one day.