Friday, 2 September 2016

ms-havachat Makes Sense of Hello Goodbye

Happy anniversary to us.

One year and 2 weeks ago, we moved to the UK for our 5th Adventure (aka UK part 2) and life is good. We've settled so well and that's to do with the school, the community and the friendships we've made.

MrsP and I were chatting a while ago and she suggested we chat about how one digs deep to get ready for the annual Welcoming of Newbies as she was struggling having waved goodbye to several BF's over summer. She's working on energy to go meet the newbies and 'start over'. On the other hand, chatting with MrsS, who has arrived in her new city, she was also working up the energy to be the newbie again .... so it works both ways.

There's a great line in one of MissM's Barbie movies where Barbie (playing the role of a fairy) asks 'Why are there so many settings at the table? Who else is coming?" and the Queen Fairy replies " All our friends we haven't yet met" (or words to that affect)

I love it!

Friends we haven't met yet.

This is exactly what these past few weeks have been like. The long summer is made even harder to bare sometimes as friends move on to new adventures and you're left behind, or YOU pack up and move on.

We are constantly meeting friends - and saying see-ya later to others (never goodbye, that's way to permanent and sad).

You might recall our chat about girl dating. If not, here's the link

I'm not sure I have the answers to how we keep going ..... the hello's and see-ya's, but we just do, cos the alternative is an ever smaller social circle, especially for those expats who are 'long term'. For those of us, like me, who churn over every few years, there's a huge difference psychologically to being the one who leaves and the one who stays.

Leaving is full of mixed emotions - in most cases, sad to be leaving but excited to be going somewhere new (or maybe not. Maybe you're over it and want to settle down)

Staying is full of mixed emotions - sometimes it's phew, we're still here, aka still employed (especially when others in your industry are moving on);  content to do another contract; sad to see BF's move on to new adventures or repatriate (there can sometimes be a bit of envy if that's the right word with either of these); the feeling of resignation to 'here we go again' with a bunch of excited newbies to befriend and ultimately settle on a few new BF's who know you from this point in time and not the past.

There's huge personal confusion at times being an expat, separate to any anxiety you might have about not being 'home' with family and friends.

My role/s on committees this year are WELCOME oriented.

It means I get to meet most, if not all the newbies and the initial conversation is always funny:
- where have you arrived from?
- how long were you there?
(if you have lived there, or know people who are there you might ask a few more questions)
- what grade are your kids in?
(then you would offer to introduce them to others with kids in same grade)
- where are you living?
(then you might introduce them to someone you know who lives close by)
- are you or your partner working?
(then chat a bit about that)
- what do you like to do in your spare time?
- mention the local International Women's Club, or another club relevant to her interests)
(introduce them to others with similar interests)

The longer we are away from home (10 years in January), the more my thoughts wander to what it might be like to repatriate - what will I miss from this life? And to be honest, I think it's this - the opportunity to meet and make new friends, to have friends all over the world, to have different ideas and influences affect me and encourage me to think and grow as a person; I am so not the same person I was when we left - I think I'm better because of all the friends and acquaintances I have met.

Let's face it, you're not going to like everyone you meet, nor they you - but there's something polite and friendly, respectful about expats that's maybe missing from the general community.

At this time of year, when we feel like the last thing we want to do is open our hearts and homes to 'new' friends, it's also the most wonderful time, full of possibilities. If you're reading this and you're the newbie, take a deep breath and walk out your front door - go to an event at school, or to the local IWC ..... no one know's you're here unless you tell them. There's oodles of friends waiting for you.

To all the people who reached out to us when we were newbies, thank you!

You are my role models. I recall your kindness and friendship often.

To those who didn't and made settling hard and lonely, thank you too cos you showed me I had inner strength and resilience I didn't know I had and you have made me a better expat, simply because I know what not to do.

Where ever you are, what ever your circumstances I hope you're making new friends,

With friendship

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