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The dark side of being an ex-pat

Yesterday I had a lovely catch-up with a friend of mine.
It was a much overdue chat, and we spoke about the last six months or so and had a general catch up on what has been going on in each others lives.
We have similar lives, we both live abroad, we are both in our thirties, we are both single after long term relationships and I was so surprised to discover that we have both spun through the same wheel of emotion within the last six months. It was reassuring to know that I am not the only one that it has happened to and I think she felt the same way. I feel like our conversation warrants a blog of its own.

Let me share.
It is difficult living away from your motherland.
It doesn't matter if you are in Guernsey or Ghana, you can feel a million miles away from life sometimes.
A loneliness can hit that is really difficult to shake.
A lack of belonging can consume you.
Sometimes all you want is a hug, but there is literally no one around/in the city to give one.
That feeling of being lost hurts the heart, and aches the soul.
It causes your mind to darken, and it is not something you can just 'shake off'
It is a feeling that both my pal and I were discussing yesterday because it is one that happens to us all...

I chose to stay in Scotland, my friend has chosen to live where she lives.
For me, my move was one of the best choices I have ever made in my life.
I love this country, I love the people, I love the beards and kilts and good god do I love the accent.
However, Aberdeen nearly broke me.
I think one of my saddest moments in my life, was Christmas this year.
I sat in my flat, on my own with a steak (which was done to perfection I would like to add),
wondering how I got to this point.
I had moved to Aberdeen because I didn't want to lose my job and it seemed to be the only option open to me. I was supposed to be here for six months so I hadn't felt the need to lay down any roots,
three months in, I could count the non-work people i knew on one hand. I have never felt more alone in my life, and I cried a lot this Christmas.
I enjoyed having a day off work, but I spent the day really looking at my life, and I didn't like what I saw. (I should add that I wasn't truly alone in the sense my dad had discovered free calls from Ireland and I couldn't get him off the phone for a few hours!)

I spent New Years with my pal Paul and his wonderful lady Carol.
I am sure I have mentioned Paul before, but for those of you who don't know him, he is like an older brother to me. I go to him for advice, I trust him with my secrets and insecurities, I know he has my best intentions at heart and I know that there is always a pair of arms open waiting to give me a hug when I need it. I simply adore him, and he and Carol have always welcomed me into the folds of their family. Paul also gives some of the best hugs in the world, and when I went to see them at New Years, and I got my hug, I realised how lonesome I had been. He could see it too. He has this face he makes when he wants to give me advice, and I could see that face emerge and be submerged for much of that evening. That night was so much fun, and Carol and I stayed up chatting until 6 in the morning about everything and anything, and I left for Aberdeen feeling as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I knew going into the new year that I had to make a change. I had to become happy again. Fuck it or fix it, right?

Before I got offered this opportunity with the new company, I had decided to move to Glasgow. The reason I chose Glasgow, other than having some fabulous friends close by, was because I want to buy a flat, and it was reasonable to be able to do it down there. I have never before felt such an urge to ground myself, but having my own home has become a huge thing for me in the past 6 months. My trip the states, and seeing all these wonderful settled couples also drove the point home for me. I'm starting to want that package. I want the person who wants to spend time with me.

I think moving to Aberdeen had a lot to do with the emotional rollercoaster too. I realised that I can pack up my life in handful of boxes and that is it. My friend has recently moved, and she has calculated that it is her 16th time moving in a handful of years..Another huge factor for me was the realisation that I don't have a home. In Ireland, I stay with relatives when I go to visit. My childhood home is no longer there for me to go back to. So when I go 'home' to Ireland, I go to other people's homes. I am always made more than welcome, and encouraged to make myself at home, but the reality is, I am not home. Here, I share with my lovely housemate, but it is his flat. It is his home. I am like Paul Young, wherever I lay my hat, that's my home.

My other Glaswegian Guru, Mark and I were chatting in the midst of my 'not having a home' saga and being lost, and what do I do. My confidence was being battered at work. I was not in a good place. He also has an uncanny ability to read me like a book. Mark asked me straight out. 'What will make you happy?'
It was a very powerful question. I never ask myself that question. I took it away with me. I thought about it. I cried some more. What I want is security, what I want is stability. Glasgow was going to give me that but my new job does too. So I chose the new job. I chose change. It is the right thing for me. What is meant for you won't pass you after all, But Mark's question has led to a new set of questions that I ask myself now.

- Is it right for me?
-Does it make me happy?

My friend and I spoke about this in great length yesterday. We are in our thirties. We have done it all. We have had the shitty jobs. We have had the ridiculous flat shares. We have had the intoxicating euphoria of being madly in love and the heart shattering experiences of having that end.  It is now time to focus on what do we want in life.
We both want hugs
We both want stability
We both want a place to call home.
We both want to continue to explore the world.
It was refreshing to know that I am not alone in my sudden urge to 'settle down'
The lesson from yesterdays conversation for me, is that no matter what kind of life you live, or wherever you spend it. There are basics that we all look for as we move forward in life. Support, security and a home. But the mantra going forward shall being - is it right for me? Does it make me happy?

When I hung up the phone, one thought lingered. The stability will come. I am on the right path. The hugs are hopefully coming in abundance, but there is one thing that Scotland has given me that I will treasure forever, and that is the people, my friends who are helping make it my home. When we spoke about Glasgow, people kept telling me to 'come home'. Glasgow will always be me happy place. I might not have my roots just yet. But I am so lucky to have the people who make my happy place, a truly happy place. xx


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