I can hardly believe it, but as of this week I've officially been in London for a whole month! People keep asking me how it's been and I want to wax poetic about how much I love this city and all of the beautiful things I've seen so far and how liberating it is to have finally made this dream a reality. And that's all true. But the fact is, this month has been a roller coaster.
There have been so many highs, but everyday isn't a stroll across London Bridge to gawk at Big Ben.
There were a million administrative tasks to take care of. Seemingly endless days of job hunting. Personal crises that seemed impossible to deal with when my friends and family are so far away. Heart-wrenching loneliness (how do adults make new friends?) The simple frustrations of being somewhere new, like not knowing where anything is in the grocery store. Watching the savings I accumulated over the past year slowly but surely deplete, and asking my self, "Why? Is this really worth it?"
Perhaps the worst part is that I have a hard time letting myself feel any of this. When I feel myself getting a bit down, I go into attack mode. Don't I know how lucky I am? I'm in London. You should be ecstatic. Aren't you grateful to be here? And I am grateful. But somedays, it's just hard.
This recent post on Adulting was a good reminder that these feelings are totally normal.
"Here’s the thing about making any big decision about ending something (your physical location, your career, your relationship): the first few months that come after it suck. ...These feelings do not mean you’ve made the wrong decision. You can’t really evaluate something new at first. So when you’re feeling frustrated, when you’re feeling lost, when you’re asking yourself why, why, why you made this choice, push through it. ...So just wait. Know that your sadness will not kill you. Give it three months."
So, if you're a new expat and you're feeling blue, try to take it easy on yourself. It's okay if it sucks a bit at first. It's even okay if it sucks a lot.
I borrowed an idea from The Happiness Project and started making a short journal entry everyday to record my favourite moments. So when I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself for having not seen or done "enough" yet, I can look back and remember all of the wonderful things that have happened so far. It's a good reminder that I don't have to go to a museum or famous monument to have a day worth remembering.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of getting settled, I'm making as much room as I can for adventure. But also reminding myself that it's okay if I need downtime to hang out in bed and watch trashy TV. I'm not on vacation. The city isn't going anywhere and neither am I. At least for now, London is my home and I've got plenty of time to explore.
Here's to many more months of this expat life of mine!