When you think of moving or living an expat life often one of the things that comes to mind is the things you inevitably loose along the way, the friends, the familiarity, the family living close by, and of course the material stuff that eventually gets lost, stolen, destroyed in storage or if you’re lucky you’ll be able to sell it for almost nothing. It can be a sad story. Eventually you start to get less interested in making true friends because saying goodbyes are never easy, you learn to choose price over quality because who needs a 10 year guarantee when you’re not sure if you’ll even see the first year out and mostly you learn to pack light. Granted, I’m still learning that but I’m getting better as we go along. You realize that those jeans you’ve been carrying around because they cost an arm and a leg but you’ve only worn actually once, just aren’t worth the space.
When you’ve been through it, its easy to get caught up thinking about the things you’ve lost along the way but the other night something amazing happened when I was thinking about the last few years. I was busy preparing my moringa facial, I had drawn a luxuriously warm bath and I was planning on slipping into the bath, putting my facial on and catching up on some reading… my idea of a perfectly relaxing evening, and then out of the blue I found myself thinking about all the things I have gained over the years of traveling. I realized how much true value the last few years have brought me. And so, here is my list of 10 things that moving has given me:
1. Obviously, the first thing moving has given me is a chance to travel and visit and live in countries that most people never get to see. I’ve done some pretty extensive travel around Africa, I’ve been to Malaysia and lived in Thailand.. there are so many memories tied to these countries that no amount of material goods could ever make up for. There’s a definite richness you gain in traveling and seeing other countries and meeting people from different walks of life, it opens your eyes to how big and interesting this world we live in is.
2. The most important thing on the list though is the friends I have made along the way. Its not easy to make friends and with every move I’ve grown more and more reluctant to reach out and embrace another friendship but I’ve been very blessed to have made friends and I’ve made some really good friends along the way and even though we can’t live down the road from each other forever we’ll always keep in touch and who knows where we’ll all end up.
3. I’m really learning the value of things, it will be a while yet but I can feel it sinking in. It shows in the way I do grocey shopping – I no longer buy for a year at a time, every week, I now buy what I need and if I dont plan on using it within a few days I dont buy it. Thats a major step for me people!
4. I am less caught up on having to have ALL the kitchen gadgets. I love my kitchen and I love having gadgets in it and I’ve been known to get carried away, like the time I just HAD to have a chocolate fountain… which I used once! I am down to basics, I dont even have a can opener.. we use knives around here!
5. A new appreciation for my clothes… I have carried them thousands, and I mean thousands, of miles so I better bloody wear them! No more am I going to look into my cupboard and complain I have nothing to wear, no more is that dress going to hang there waiting for the right day.. every day is the right day! Even if I am living in the bush! There’s no such thing as overdressed.
6. A new appreciation for my own space. This has been something that I have been feeling overwhelming gratitude for lately. When you move a lot there’s a lot of down time, time in-between moves where you stay with family and friends while waiting for the next marching orders and I love having people I love around every day but I also love having my space and I love having quality family time, there is just nothing like it!
7. Routine. Its probably one of my most unexpected ones because I’ve never been one for routine of any kind but I suppose like the saying goes “you dont know what you’ve got until its gone”.. when you travel you often loose routine and when I could have routine I never really wanted it but since I’ve lived in a world where routine didnt even enter my vocabulary, i’ve realized the benefit in having some of it in my life.
8. A solid realization of the fact that everywhere you go there you are. often when life gets mundane one can fantasize of how life would be different if they lived in a different country or had some more exciting events in their life but the reality is that what might be new and exciting today, tomorrow is just life. Living in a dream destination is only exciting the first week and then you’ve got to deal with real life. You will still have your insecurities, you will still have those things that get on your nerves, it will just be in a different environment. Its important we look beyond the surface and figure out why we’re unhappy or bored in our current circumstance and how we can change that rather than just looking for an escape.
9. An interest in the affairs of other countries. I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the news, I hate hearing about the devastation and who’s killed who and who’s torturing who but at the same time I love to be in the loop. I opt to not listen to the news more often than not but I’ve developed a genuine interest and almost care for the news of the countries I’ve visited or lived in, I share in their successes and I feel sad when I see their country or their people being slandered or going through a devastation. I really have left bits of my heart everywhere and I truly hope I get to go and visit those places again.
10. And last but definitely not least.. traveling is always, ALWAYS, a good small talk topic so I’ve always got something to say. I try not to sound like one of those people who you know is going to be talking about the same thing until the day they die, but at the same time its saved my arse a few times when I’ve run out of small talk and provided its not the third time you’re telling the person about that one time in thailand, people are genuinely interested to hear traveling tales.