Write a blog about moving. That’s what my friend Helen said when I recently moved to Scotland.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t decide what to write about.
Should I write about moving back to my home country after 28 years? Leaving the North East? Downsizing?
Actually, I’m going to write about how moving feels.
People have been telling me, “how exciting”, “a new chapter”, “a fantastic adventure”. And it is, now I’ve got over the initial feeling of being ‘erased’.
You see when I first moved I felt as if the old ‘me’ ceased to exist.
I had a new house, a new town, new places to explore, but the old ‘me’ that was established and recognised in the neighbourhood, the schools and hockey pitches of the North East had suddenly ceased to be. The old ‘me’ had suddenly gone from being someone to being no one. It’s only natural that I felt invisible.
So how did I get myself back? How did I redraw myself? How did I make myself feel visible again?
I remembered autonomous actions that made me happy; routines and habits that didn’t rely on any particular person or location. I realised I didn’t have to rely on other people, or a particular place to make me feel like ‘me’. I could be me anywhere. Within a couple of days I was back to my old self and feeling happy, purposeful and ready for this new exciting adventure. I had effectively redrawn the old me, just in a different location.
So why am I telling you this? Because we all have to ‘move’ at some point in our lives. Whether it’s moving jobs, houses, or relationships. Whether you’re starting a new job, or taking on a new role, or even moving to a new organisation, you might feel your confidence dip as you feel your ‘old’ self becoming ‘erased’.
There are things you already do for yourself that make you happy, that make you ‘you’. Maybe it’s going for a run, or reading a book, or baking a cake. It might be the pictures you have in your classroom, or a favourite penholder on your desk, or some music you play in your car. It’s those small autonomous habits and familiar anchors that can make the process of change less traumatic. It’s about creating something personal, recognisable and even intimate – through actions, language, pictures, sounds, smells or even tastes – to make you feel comfortable. And if you can’t exactly replicate those in your new location, you can reproduce the principle of them. So although you might not be able to do precisely as you used to, you can think laterally and do the same kinds of things.
So, I don’t know about you, but the next time I move, I’m going to draw ‘me’ in my new location before I go, so I can recognise the picture as soon as I arrive.