I still remember the morning I woke up in Australia after a 14-hour flight. I found myself in a cramped room, my luggage surrounding me, feeling utterly alone. I had no idea where to go, which way to head next, where to even eat breakfast. I knew nothing about the place I was in or the life I was about to lead.
I spent 10 weeks in Australia alone, so desperate to find friends. I was in school and it seemed like it should be easy to make friends, but most days I went to class and returned to my tiny room and then struggled through dinner or a game of cricket on TV. I often called my parents or touched base with friends who were getting up as I went to bed. I existed in this in between space: not feeling at home, but seeking that sense of comfort.
I spent most of those 10 weeks alone until I met my first friend. He then introduced me to an entire group of friends who taught me how to be a real Aussie, who took me on adventures and who helped me settle in. 10 weeks with a lot of time sipping coffees at cafes, desperate for human interaction.
When I moved to Lancaster it was different: I had a boyfriend, we lived together and I knew his world. I most certainly wasn’t alone, but I wasn’t home, either. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it, just the things I loved from the beginning of our relationship. Market and Mean Cup, those were the only things I needed. But as time went on, I cultivated new relationships and new experiences. We eventually grew apart, even though I was sure our future was together.
The next few years opened a world of possibilities for me; in my career, in my spiritual life, in my every day routines. It just kept getting better and better. I just kept getting better and better. I started staying home more instead of going out. I found books to read and things to create. I had deep and meaningful connections that gave me a sense of place.
And before I knew it, almost 3 years had passed.
The feeling of being the only person, the one and only, so alone and so far from home. It can shake you to the core. As a Transplant, you’ve moved to a new place, started a new life; something more permanent than a short trip or a few months away. You’ve landed here and now.
Now this could be an uncomfortable thought for some, but it’s a reality in the life we live as Transplants. We are new people in a new place, and more often than not, we’re alone. For an indefinite amount of time, we’ll be alone and wandering, transitioning into a new life. We have new jobs, new friends, new environments and new cultures to learn.
Each transition we go through brings change into our lives, but the constant is always the same: our selves. You know, the person you are, the body you inhabit, the mind you possess. When you become a Transplant, you have the ability to reinvent yourself or to simply develop the person you are and embrace the person you were.
You’re going to spend a lot of time alone, feeling alone even when you’re surrounded by people. You’re going to question everything, you’re going to feel out of place, and if you’ve never felt any of this, than kudos to you, because I have felt it every place I’ve ever settled.
Getting to know yourself is important for more reasons than I can list, but here are just a few:
You get to know what makes you happy.
You need to know your happy place, because to be quite frank, life isn’t always wonderful. Sometimes we’re sad, sometimes we’re angry, sometimes we’re just feeling lost. The old tried and true places of our youth don’t exist, we left them behind. It’s important to know how to make yourself feel better in a time of stress in your new home. I have my happy place in Mount Gretna, often taking myself out to breakfast. In Sydney I first found a favorite bookstore, then found a yoga studio that overlooked the ocean. In Italy, I sat on the steps of the Duomo to think. Now I roll yarn for a friend before she crochets. It can be as simple or as weird as you need to make it.
You get to know your limits.
When do you need to walk away? When do you need a personal day? When are you so upset you can’t even think straight? How much can you put up with when it comes to relationships with other people? And ultimately: how do you learn from these experiences and move forward? Moving forward into the unknown can be scary as hell. It’s good to know how much you can go through before you need to take a break and recharge your core.
You have more meaningful relationships.
Meaningful connections will fuel you. They’ll fuel your sole, your creativity, your self worth and will help you be your best self. Meaningful relationships make you feel at home, they give you a connection to the people and the place you are in. Your friends will hold you up when you need them, giving you that safety net to move forward and experience this new life you are living.
You get a new routine.
This seems super simple, but for me it’s one of the most important benefits of getting to know myself. In Australia, I combated depression with a coffee and a newspaper. In Lancaster, I have quiet mornings with coffee to set myself up for the day ahead. Having that time, that moment to yourself is something precious, something that no one else is experiencing, something just for you. It’s a treat for all the hard work you do. It’s more than getting up and showering or brushing your teeth to move on with your day: It’s taking the time to check in, to see where you are and what you need.
You will accept who you are and who you once were.
Embrace this as a new start. You were who you were before you moved here. Everything you’ve been through, well that’s just shaped you into the person you are today. You are who you are for a reason and the sooner you accept, it the sooner you can start living it. Once you start living your life, loving yourself and accepting all those faults…you’ll realize they were never that bad in the first place.
Admittedly, this is not an easy task I suggest. It takes time, effort and so much forgiveness. So proceed carefully, my fellow Transplants, and get to know yourself.