How Moving Abroad Helped Me Find My Happy Place
As I sit here on this beautiful, sunny, late summer’s day, I’m struck by the strange sensation that I feel alright. You see, I’ve just come back from nine days holiday in the rolling Tuscan Hills. Normally, the night before I start work after summer hols I’m in all kinds of inner turmoil. By this stage, I’m usually the embodiment of that anguished face emoji (this one —> 😩 ). This year, however, I’m feeling a bit more like this little smiling guy —> 🙂 . Not thrilled, obviously. But honestly - quite alright.
Somehow this year I avoided the searing, gut-churning, holiday blues. All day, I’ve been waiting for it to hit. And yet, nada. Not even making my way through the mountain of ironing I’d put off before going away brought it on. It’s now 9PM - reality is definitely, 100%, irrefutably looming - and yet I feel okay….
I took to Dr Google to do a little research into holiday blues (I wanted to be prepared this year for when the inevitable would eventually hit…) and, instead of reading anything scientific, I came across page upon page of message forums with people venting about their lives. Overworked, underpaid, less-than-happy people have taken to the internet en masse to connect through a shared disappointment that life isn’t one eternal holiday.
It was somewhere in and amongst all that online unhappiness that I realised why I was feeling so unexpectedly ok. I realised that, for the first time in my adult life, my holiday hadn’t been an escape.
For those of you who know me or who have read my earlier posts, you’ll know that my decision to move to Denmark was largely driven by the unfulfilling, caffeine-fuelled routine I’d found myself in in London. It’s not that anything was particularly wrong, it just definitely wasn’t right.
Certainly for the past 3 years since I left uni (but, in truth, probably since my second year of uni) holidays had always symbolised a temporal, tantalising break from the norm. Every year I’d spend a ton of money that I couldn’t really afford to feel happy for a few weeks of the year. And then, once it was over, I’d edge back in to reality with a depressing wait of 12 more months until I could leave again.
This year I couldn’t be further from that feeling. Right now I feel more contented, rested and energised than I did before I left, but not because I left, just because I had a break.
This holiday helped me to realise that moving abroad allowed me to find my metaphorical happy place. The mix of a new environment, learning a new language, connecting with an international community and finding time to do more of the things I love has helped me to totally redefine my status quo.
So often, people reject the idea of moving abroad for fear of the unknown. I get it. Before we came here I was totally overwhelmed by the endless ‘what ifs?’ - what if I don’t make any friends? What if I’m rubbish at my new job? What if my flat is flooded with the tears of a thousand unicorns?… you name it, I worried about it.
The reality is that if your current situation isn’t right, then change - whatever that might be - helps you to recalibrate. Even if that change turns out to a difficult one, even if you wish you didn’t do it, that feeling alone will help you to better understand what the ingredients of your own happy place are. Promotion? Demotion? Life on a beach? Whatever it might be, even if you try it and hate it, at least you’ll be closer to understanding what it is that you need from life to be more contented.
My personal experience of moving abroad has been challenging in so many ways, but rewarding in a million more. I've made new friends, improved my quality of life, grown professionally and started new side projects - all of which have helped me to understand my own little metaphorical happy place much better.
If you're thinking of taking that jump but frightened of the fall, my advice is to trust your instinct and take a leap of faith. The rewards are innumerable, and the challenges are - in the end - all part of the fun (or at least that's what I keep telling myself 😉 ....)