This is about how a life-changing situation proved me wrong.
I moved abroad a year ago.
Found myself stuck in a new country where I had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it at first.
I’m in my 40s and I made a conscious decision to moving abroad and turning my entire life upside down.
I consider myself a strong person that can navigate life well. I proved myself many times that, despite adversity, I can find the strength and positivity to adapt.
* * *
People admired me for my resilience.
I made several big changes in my life, took some risky decisions, and faced some mental toughness. Somehow, I’ve always landed on my feet.
Nothing could hold me back, everything seemed possible to me. Neither a radical career transition nor a life change had chances scaring me off.
Some decisions I’ve taken looked risky at first sight. But those decisions were always part of a well-thought-out plan.
I was in control!
Being more at home, spending more time with my family was something I’ve always dreamed of doing. I’ve never spent so much time not going to work.
Now, I had the chance to enjoy it and I couldn’t be happier.
* * *
Reality caught up with me
Changing at once both my personal and professional life as I knew it turned to be a bigger change than the one I thought I’ve signed up for.
In a few months, reality caught me up. Circumstances and other uncontrollable factors can appear and hit you anytime.
You can not be always in control.
It is not about what happens to you — it is how you react to, respond to, and recover from what happens to you proves how resilient you are.
* * *
You cannot control everything
It’s true what they say — if you don’t want to be disappointed you need to have no expectations. After all, my expectations had fed my frustration.
I am convinced now more than ever that I am not suitable for being a housewife and that I suck at house-keeping. I had some clues before, but my new circumstances brought even more clarity on that.
I can live with my flows, so does my husband. But I was not ready to let my new life situation wipe out my positive traits.
It became clear — I’ve oversold my positivity, forgetting that I cannot control everything.
The change I was going through was much bigger than expected, what I found in the much-expected out-of-the-box world was overwhelming.
* * *
I had to learn so much more about mental toughness than I experienced before. Amid disappointments, I found the strength to keep going. I was blessed with a certain mental toughness that stood by me.
I could control my loneliness
I felt isolated. I felt guilty about taking a break. I felt far away from myself because I was clear on what my meaning in life was. And it was so much more than being a wife and a mother.
Nobody likes being alone that much but loneliness was necessary for me.
I had to learn my way around loneliness. To sit with it, hear my emotions as a virtual storm within me. Distinguishing my reality from my dreams and learning to make a bridge and draw a map to get them in contact.
I could control my fears.
I feared to be like everyone else. I feared to be a completely acceptable person in society. I am not a rebel or an attention-seeker and I do not even worry about perfecting anything or everybody’s opinions. But I cared about how I felt and if I fit the role I was playing.
I lived in fear only because I wanted to be in control. But controlling my fear was not the solution, conquering my fear was the way to go.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. -Dale Carnegie
I could enjoy life.
I took the time to enjoy everything, enjoy my family time. Wasting my time in the wisest possible way — with my family.
I found that enjoying family time was not wasted time. It was just a gift that life gave me. A gift that my new life prepared for me. I started enjoying life much more than I ever did before. And not feeling guilty about it.
* * *
A life-changing situation requires a life-changing mindset shift. Life-changing events shake and wake you.
I was not ready to wake up in a new environment, as I thought I was. A new way of looking at life as it unfolded shake me up a little bit. And wake me up.
I’ve learned that you don’t need to do big reinventions. Within big life-changes, it’s often the small things we do that keeps us going.
I’ve given up controlling my life.
I’ve noticed that things go much more smoothly when you give up control.
I found somehow the mental strength to bounce back and get myself back on my feet.
I learned to slow the game down and stay in the moment. I shifted my attention to what I can control instead of controlling everything in my life. Craving control over what I don’t have power over was just silly.
You can even make fun out of what you cannot control instead of making a tragedy out of it.
It’s still important for me to visualize positive outcomes but I’ve learned also that I have to remain realistic about it.
I’ve identified what I was missing most: having strong social connections. This is an important characteristic of resilient people. So, I’ve started building new contacts and finding new communities. It improved my emotional state. This even helped me to cope better with living as a newbie abroad in lockdown.
I’ve started asking more for help. Asking for help was always one of my weakest points. What a great opportunity to work on my areas of improvement!
Finding new ways to tackle problems forced me each day to create new perspectives for myself. I ended up pushing my boundaries and gaining new skills.
* * *
Resilience is a tricky skill to have. It cannot be taken for granted.
I needed to continue to improve and reinforce my capacity to face constraints and build resilience. I’m still in a work-in-progress state, as life usually is.
But being able to control my mental aspects instead of controlling external factors brought me a boost in confidence and an overall calmer state of mind.
I was aware that the decision to move abroad will help me grow as a person and to see the world differently. What I didn’t realize before is that I will be seeing the world with a new set of eyes.
Previously published on “Change Becomes You”, a Medium publication.
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