We all know that when someone tells you to calm down, it tends to have the opposite effect. The same can be said when people tell you to stop stressing, lighten up, or not to be a hater. This doesn’t mean that I was a troll or a complete ball of negativity, but my predisposition definitely tends to be more on the reserved side than to be a fluffy ray of sunshine. One thing I now know is that it wasn’t that I was choosing to be reserved and more locked away, but that it works really well as a defense-mechanism. Somedays it definitely felt like I was on the front line and the only way to make sure I wasn’t trampled was to wrap myself in figurative armour and stand my ground.
Taking a huge leap of faith, like choosing to emigrate to a country I’ve never been to has tested me on quite a few levels. It’s absolutely refreshing to realise how little you need to be comfortable, how liberating it is to let go of possessions that previously felt like an extension of myself or an expression of who I am. It’s all just stuff. What it all really came down in the end was our relationship. And that’s probably the most important part. If I wasn’t able to rely on love and trust, there wouldn’t be anything to build on, and nothing to fall back on either. By letting go of everything – and by everything, I mean: prized possessions and collections that have been built up over the years, comfort, security, all in the name of adventure. Previously I thought that all I’d need in life was a little place to call my own. In the end, I’m lucky to know that home, for me at least is a combination of a person and the feeling that person makes me feel.
When we decided to embark on this journey, I didn’t mind talking about it but after a while obviously more and more people want to talk about it. Asking more and more invasive questions which after a while start getting a bit much. The level of invasiveness is quite astounding and people just assume they have a right to know your most personal stories and feelings. Instead of making me more open to sharing it made me so closed off where it reached the point where I didn’t want to talk to anybody. From what I can tell, people want to hear your story so that they can justify their own, or find a way to impart their pearls of wisdom or tell you what to do. Encouragement started to turn into lectures and philosophical conversations that, frankly, I wasn’t willing to embark on.
Where previously I was happy to update on the progress of things, I now only told people when they asked. Even then,I’d only give them the bare minimum. As we were achieving milestones, it was amazing, of course, but only we knew about it. Now, more than ever my shields are up and I feel like a porcupine on the defense and ready to attack. There are so many people willing to live their lives openly on social media and share every menial detail, I’m just not one of them. Privacy is becoming everything, and the inner circle smaller and smaller.
This process has made me realise that I’m definitely someone who jumps at new opportunities and isn’t afraid of change, but my tendency to clam up has helped me weather the constant barrage of questions and awkward situations people put you in. I haven’t been able to pinpoint why people want all the information that lead to your choice to emigrate, and I don’t understand the ones that vent or act out in anger, and frankly, I’m totally ok with that. On the particularly bad days I just look inward, lock everything away and put on a brave, happy face.
One thing that I know for sure is that feeling anxious, second-guessing yourself and feeling like you’re on a runaway rollercoaster are things you learn to deal with on a daily basis. The last thing you need is people fueling that feeling.
Embroidery by Michelle Kingdom.