Navigating New Realities

The hardest part about moving to a new place and having to start over isn’t so much the learning new things and adjusting to a new way of life. The hardest part is having to start all my relationships over again from scratch. Assumptions come easy when knowledge is lacking. I could make a seemingly outrageous statement to my friends, and they would be able to quickly file it within the context of their understanding of me. With strangers or acquaintances, even simple statements take on meanings that were never intended.

It goes without saying that being here has increased the love and appreciation I have for my amazing friends, supervisors, mentors, mentees, and well-wishers back home. To all of you dear ones who have been a part of my life for the past seven years of being in Toronto, you are incredibly loved, appreciated, valued, and missed.

There is a type of security in familiarity and that’s why new environments can seem threatening and overwhelming at times. You suddenly find that you have to explain yourself in situations that were previously settled. Or you suddenly have to defend yourself in situations where your friends would have naturally had your back. And yet, this is part and parcel of the relocation story. (Let’s be real though. A significant part of the struggle is the fact that I’ve moved into a culture that sees the world so vastly different that I do. The cognitive dissonance is off the charts. The double binds are debilitating. But I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post.)

Thankfully, I’ve been through this before and I can do it again. Thankfully, I know who I am better today than I did yesterday. And thankfully, I’m not invested in others’ opinions of me because that’s a losing game from every perspective. I keep having to remind myself that the journey never promised that I would be understood or appreciated. The journey only promises adventure, and a hell of a brilliant story on the other side.

So this is my journey. If there is some part of it that you don’t like or don’t agree with, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is not your journey, it’s mine. You are welcome to walk some of the way with me, or the whole way with me, or none of the way with me. Your call. And for whatever part of my journey you share, whether two miles or a lifetime, I acknowledge your investment and extend my deepest gratitude.

What I’ve learned over the years is that approval is irrelevant and unnecessary. Stop waiting for it. It won’t get you where you want or need to go. And it will be like walking with weights on. The simple fact of the matter is that you can’t keep everyone happy with you all the time. So let go of your need for approval because it is exhausting carrying that load around. Trust your inner compass. It will not point you wrong. 

Lastly, if you’re out there and you’re going through a tough time, I feel you. And I offer you this closing thought: Adversity is the trial of soul that develops the grit of character. You may have to reach deeper than you have ever reached before to find the will to endure. But you must not retreat. Let the process refine you. You will emerge with a strength that you may not recognize as your own. But that strength is you, dear one. That depth, that grit, that overcoming spirit—that’s your God-given instinct. You’ve got what it takes. So onward.

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