Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Learn to be yourself

Learn to be yourself

Yesterday I received the sweetest mail from a friend of mine (find her over here on her blog) that was full of encouragement and reassurance.
I honestly think that encouraging someone is never a waste of time. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I think it is the best gift you can give someone. You don't even have to know then that well to just say, "hey, you know that thing you did? You really did a great job!" or "You got this!" It really can make someones day.
So yes, my sweet friend encouraged me and spoke to me from her experience of moving from one country to another and feeling, well, just a little lost. I am in transition right now. It is hard. It's kind of like a junk - I am not unhappy or ungrateful, just stuck in a little junk. I am still technically in The Netherlands, but I am not at University. This time next week I shall be England before I head out to the US at the end of July. The next couple of months are a transition.

If you are a regular here at Me+Life+Coffee you will already know that I am English, but I have lived in three different countries in the past three years.
Life have gone like this: US for 7 months, England for 4 months, US for 9 months, England for 12 months, the Netherlands for 9 months. For the past 9 months I have been studying at an International University where I have met many people who have lived their entire lives like this. I therefore know that my experience of moving and changing and moving and changing is not that wild or crazy in comparison.
When people ask me to describe culture shock, the only word that comes close to truly describing it is "awkward". There have been times in the US, England and The Netherlands when I have just felt down right awkward - unsure of what to say, how to act or what to expect in certain situations. Even moving back to England after stints of living in the US brought on some kind of culture chock! It was a culture shock to find that I could rent movies from a touch screen vending machine in the US and that everyone other me in the line at Walmart is quite obviously armed and dangerous. It was a shock in The Netherlands to find that coffee shops are not in fact places you go for coffee but rather where you go to smoke a joint. It was also strange to find that in my little Dutch town, stores tend to not open until noon on a Monday and shut early on a Thursday and only open one Sunday in a kinda have to schedule your shopping trips! No midnight runs to Albertsons or Tesco's for Ben&Jerrys.
Yes it has been awkward. It continues to be awkward, and as I endure yet another transition phase, the awkwardness is mounting.

So, as my Yogi Tea told me this morning, all I can do is learn to be myself in the season that I am in. That is all I can do and hopefully that will be enough.


Amy @ Picture It said...

I LOVE this post. So well written and hilarious. I haven't moved from country to country, but I've done plenty of moving around the states and culture shock is something even I have felt. Awkward is a great word to describe it. I moved from a very "hipster" town to an area with more golf courses and country clubs than coffee shops (soo sad). Sometimes I have no idea what is polite here, so I just don't say anything.
Hang in there dear friend!
And your friends blog is fantastic. Great writing. Thanks for sharing!

India Banks said...

oh wow Sally this post has me in tears! Thank you for being so sweet and also for reminding that we should take the time to encourage people. So much of what you describe about your life the past few years sounds like mine - although I cannot imagine having to stay psychologically collected while losing then finding myself in as many different places as you! But you're right. Learning to be yourself wherever you go is the work of a lifetime! I feel fortunate to know you and know that wherever you go - you will be splendid xx

Michelle said...

Love this!! I know what you mean, it's always a culture shock to be someplace new. Whenever I travel, the US is always a culture shock...albeit a welcome one usually! But I love culture shocks, I really do. I love how they force you to learn and grow and discover new things about the world. And I'm jealous of all you living abroad, though I know it's not always easy!

Julie Marling said...

Great post! Following you from Wiegand hop. I love the title of your blog. Coffee is my best friend ;)

Follow back when you get a chance!

Lyndsy said...

Hey there. I just found your blog.
I just moved to Borken Germany from the US two weeks ago. I have had that non-stop awkward feeling. Any tips you can give me? I'm living here as an au=pair and have met no one so far that speaks english. I am dying for friends!