I have come to realise that somehow my life abroad, has gradually evolved to become my new idea of normal. It’s normal to go to work on a double decker bus everyday. It’s normal to come across pubs older than America or uneven cobblestone paths. It’s normal to spend a Saturday exploring castles or country home estates.
It’s this definition of normal that I feel so humbly grateful for every single day. Most dream of living abroad, absorbing a new culture and living this life. But, this of course comes with sacrifice. For as wildly happy and content I am here in Wales, I have my moments where I feel pained on all that I have given up to live life with the title as ‘expat’. And somehow, I need to reconcile the joy with the guilt on a daily basis. That my friends is a mental balancing act.
Today marks my five year anniversary of arriving in Wales as a newlywed, looking to anxiously start my new life. As I as thinking about my personal evolution, I dove into my archives, which is where the quote above came from — my anniversary post from 2015. The idea of redefining my new ‘normal’ is a daily/weekly/monthly occurrence and still rings very true to me.
This year, on my five year anniversary, I feel like I have come into my own here in Wales, and possibility that has to do with the simple fact that I have had to start over. To build a new identity, to build a new framework of daily life. To learn how to cross the road, dial a phone or address an envelope. (No really, it’s the little things.) There have been times of struggle and frustration, and of course there have been moments of joy and triumph. Living abroad has given me the rare chance to step beyond my comfort zone, hell leave it behind and rewrite my comfort zone completely.
And as I did rewrote the rules and threw out the comfort zone, I found what I was made of and what I am capable of handling. In the span of 5 years, I have gone from struggling to create a routine to actually flourishing.
In five years, I have had 5 different jobs at 3 different companies, in 2 completely different fields. I know that may sound crazy, but I don’t really think so. You see, in moving to a new country, I have been given the chance to write new expectations of myself, and I’ve found that as I am learning new lessons… I am also building my hunger for challenges and growth. Before moving to Wales, I would have been happy in my last job in America (one that I loved) for years upon years, but here I’ve taken on a ‘What the hell could go wrong?’, mentality because after moving 5,000 miles — the worst is rarely really that bad.
And with that mentality, I have grown into a professional career that is a challenge and fulfilling. I have learned to stand up for myself, and what my worth and value is to a company. I have also grown into my outgoing, high-five giving self — even with my reserved British co-workers. For me, starting a new life has meant being as authentic as possible, because I didn’t move 5,000 miles to be less than my truest self.
I also believe that living in Wales, has allowed me to grow into my truest self. Wales, as I’ve shared before, is a stunning country with rolling green hillsides, medieval castles and areas of natural beauty at every turn. I have been constantly inspired by the green space, the big blue skies, and the slower pace of life living in Wales provides. I feel that my energy is constantly getting renewed while we have our mini adventures, and for that I am truly and wonderfully grateful.
Over the course of the five years I have been living in Wales, I have written up plenty of expat musings here on the blog to give advice and insight about how to make a big international move. Although I don’t write about it often as I’d like, I would welcome questions from readers on being an expat. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop a question in the comments below. I would truly love to hear from you.
If you’d like to take a stroll down expat memory lane, here are my anniversary posts…another reason why I love blogging, so be able to revisit my musings at the different phases of my expat journey is such a gift.
2013 – Happy One Year Expat Anniversary to Me // 2014 – Celebrating 730 Days as an Expat // 2015 – Accepting and Embracing Life Abroad as My New Normal // 2016 – Celebrating 4 Years as an Expat with Aha Moments and Lessons
Here’s to another year of rewriting the rules and pushing beyond my comfort zone!