Being an expat in a country very different to your homeland creates a battle between the heart and mind so equal in artillery and strategy you think you’re going crazy at the indecisiveness of it all.
The opportunities while abroad argue ‘for’ being in a foreign land. Then, the unprovoked memories of the familiar and comfortable act as cues connected to an identity that makes you you. Logic says stay, you’re lucky. The heart says go home, you’re lucky there too.
Who am I without driving my children to swimming lessons, play dates, the shops, the Dentist, the Doctor or anything at all? Who am I without kissing my children at the school gate and waving them off as they make their way across the quadrangle then returning 6 hours later to take them home? Who am I when I don’t see the dirt marks on their laundry, fold their clothes or curse over missing socks? Hear their praises or see their scrunched up faces over a meal I prepared in the hopes it both nourished their bodies and pleased their little taste buds. Who am I when I can’t shop online, visit a fully stocked art supply store, find an art teacher, buy clothes that are my style, order a soy decaf cappuccino or even read a magazine? Relying on others to do the things I would ‘just do’ at home is an adjustment I seem to be resisting to say the least.
The things I used to do at home are either done by somebody else or just not easy to do here. Since a large part of what we do accumulates into the whole of who we are, it seems an obvious thing to say that I don’t just miss being home, I miss being me.
On the flip side, the opportunities to do things I would never do at home either due to lack of time or availability are endless here. I already find myself in situations I never thought I would ever see myself, doing things I never thought I would do. I have private tennis lessons, I’m learning a new language, experiencing a different culture and forming friendships unlike any before.
Although still unfamiliar here and despite feeling a little (or a lot) lost at times, I’ve found the answer. It is a simple matter of mediating between the heart and the mind and letting each have their turn to rule. This creates a medium between the old you that has always been and the new you that will meet you in the future.
And how does one manage that?
You ‘just do’.
One more thing I am doing is taking advantage of the wonderful local craftsmanship at a much more affordable price to frame drawings I would normally store in a draw somewhere. Here is my first of many yet to come.
Mum, you will recognise this drawing from my first 8 minute life drawing exercise that you liked the most.