I have moved to a new country 4 times in my life and I’m so grateful for every place I experienced— it’s like being given a new chance at life every time. This is not to imply that I messed it up each time but I can’t say I have gotten it right either… yet. Here is to every home I had so far and how it shaped who I am today. Maybe a new place could alter how you see yourself too.
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen
Calling relocation a ‘big step’ is a little weird/funny for me as I don’t see it as a big deal anymore and can picture myself moving a lot more times. It’s something about this ‘new beginning’ that makes it so attractive. Of course, my past is always the same and is permanent with me but I can choose what I bring with me and what I disclose to the public. It might sound a bit dramatic to say it’s always a new chance at life because you are technically still the same person. You are still you, not suddenly a whole new persona. But you can tweak it and change it, how you portray yourself and what kind of person you want to be. You have a choice at what version of you new people around will meet.
In my first years abroad I was only 15 and super anxious about my studies. There was nothing more important for me than my grades so I spent less time socialising, had 3 friends in total over 3 years in school and was scared Vodka Smirnoff will knock me out. Nerdy and introverted me did feel like something was lacking and although I dreamed of a bigger circle of friends, boarding school Christina wasn’t ready for that. So my teenage years I spent mostly in my room, studying History and snacking on M&S cookies. I couldn’t wait to move on and leave behind the expectations people had of me. It’s weird how changing seems much harder at the present and only a new place gives you the push to develop a new part of yourself.
So my second time moving was to London, where I didn’t really have friends and lived by myself. I had to drastically transform who I was in high school. But it was easy, nobody had any preconceptions of me, I could rock up in any class and be as badass as I want, nobody would question my authenticity. Yes, there are limits to your ‘transformation’ and we take time developing our personalities. Sometimes we don’t know how to become who we truly are or are scared to unleash our true selves. So as I entered uni, I didn’t suddenly become the most famous girl on campus but I got to know so many people, something that my school version of me never managed to do. I joined different clubs, went out at least 3 times a week and spent fewer days fully sober to enhance my uni life experience. Can I say I faked it? Absolutely not. I stayed true to my values but altered the image I wanted others to see. Which one of ‘me’ is more ‘me’ poses a difficult question and I still don’t know the answer. We seek to better ourselves every day and throughout our whole life so I just see it as a part of the long journey. But I like the fact that we can be given a new chance if we are willing to take it.
The third move was to Barcelona, again starting from 0 but with bigger baggage. By that time, I got attached to London and had established a more solid personality (I’d hope so). Nevertheless, Christina that people met in Barcelona wasn’t the same that people would have met 3 years ago. This time I wanted to position myself as someone who knows what she wants, interested in spending weekends abroad rather than having nights I couldn’t recall the next day. Seeking a job became a priority and the time for making bolder decisions seemed to have come. But it would be boring if it all worked out how I planned it. So of course, nothing went to plan and my version of ‘me’ evolved to accept it, become more resistant to failures and unsuccessful relationships. Barcelona and my third move taught me things London did not and formed me into a person who decided to try again and book plane tickets to Canada.
The fourth move is happening now. With fresh aspirations and new goals, set priorities. I would like to hope this one is a bit more permanent for me to settle down and accomplish the steps I decided on. It’s again a completely new experience with North American culture being different in its own way and people with annoying accents. And I love it, every day I learn something new or face a new challenge that I haven’t gone through before. The fact that planes, trains and cars let me live a new life is so encouraging and liberating. So here I’m a new person again, way more mature (I think) and more serious about her writing career. Still truly dumb sometimes and overstressed but hey, I have a few more years and 195 more countries if all goes sideways. I believe I’ll end up where I belong, no matter how long it takes.