After eight years, I still find myself getting all reflective on this day. When I left England, I knew the flights would be long, but what I didn’t know (and probably thankfully so,) was that the journey would continue long after my feet hit the ground. That those hours in the sky were nothing compared to the path my heart would take over the months & years that follows.
There’s so many things I wish I had known when I made the jump, although I’m equally thankful I didn’t know- for had I realized what the trip would cost, I may never have had the courage to do it.
For the sake of time, here’s a list of things nobody ever mentioned before I made the leap- or if they did, I didn’t listen. (So unusual for a Type A personality 21 year old, I know.)
1- Every simple task becomes just a little bit harder. Choosing a bag of chips (which are actually called crisps…) when you don’t know any of the brands, finding out where to get your car fixed, how fuel stations work, where to buy certain items…. everything just gets a little harder.
2- Point one is more exhausting than you expect.
3- Making real friends takes a long time. A really long time. It takes lots of small talk, lots of talking to people who you don’t click with, going to every social event you can just because you somehow have to find a way to meet people.
4- Point 3 is more exhausting than you expect. (Apparently I’m not as extroverted as I always assumed.)
5- All your assumptions about yourself & the world around you will be challenged, and you will feel every insecurity you have ever had come to the surface. At the same time.
6- Number five rocks your core more than it sounds it would, but creates a strength within you didn’t know you didn’t have until you had to find it.
7- You’ll never be totally sure where “home” is anymore. When I’m in NZ, England is “back home,” when I’m in England, NZ is “back home.”
8- You’re going to have the best times and greatest adventures. But you’re also going to be as low as you could ever think, and question why on earth you thought this was all a grand adventure.
9- Once you make great friends, they’re the absolute best friends you could hope for. They really & truly become family.
10- Number 9 doesn’t happen by magic- and usually you have to give more than you take for a long time.
11- Every culture has its challenges and its beauty. The challenge is to learn from both.
12- You may always question whether it was worth it to have your heart pulled in two directions, but you’ll always reach the conclusion that the depth you have in your life is worth it all.
13- You’ll always feel bad that you live so far from your family. You’ll wish you didn’t leave them, you’ll wish you were there on every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, holiday, birth, death and other significant events.
14- Anyone who says goodbyes get easier either lied or has never done it.
15- Smart phones make the world smaller, so get one.
I’m sure there’s a hundred other thoughts I’ve had over the years of things I wish I could tell my 21 year old self. Like “21 is really young to move to the ends of the earth, so don’t panic when you find it so hard it seems impossible- you’re practically still a child.” I always feel a great sense of wealth when I consider that I get the privilege to call two places home, and to love and be loved in both.
I could never have predicted just how bittersweet it is to have your heart span land and oceans, to always have the sense of loving where you are & wishing you could be in another place simultaneously. But I’m so thankful for the day I chose to spread my wings & trust in the One whose love truly spans it all.