I have written before about acceptance and being able to accept yourself as you are, and how it is a life-long process when one is philosophical and interested in such matters.
Moving back home after several long years abroad has thrown me back into the tailspin that naturally follows such an event. I go from self-assured confidence in my chameleon-like abilities to fit in anywhere in such a short space of time – to the more sobering lows of loneliness that come with the realisation that I actually do not fit into this society at all. It is a very rocky ride!
Some days are positive, great conversations, a kind word from a stranger, bumping into a familiar face from the past. But some days just remind me of the alien that I currently am. There is a time frame (about six months) after moving to a new home that one needs to be aware of. A time when you are just not settled no-matter how much you try to be, or try to convince yourself. In this time you may forget who you really are, as I have learnt along the way.
Yes, you can become so disillusioned as to who or what you actually are as you try to hold onto your identity from where you have just come from, while trying to mould into a new identity that will suit your new environment. This is the tailspin I speak of. It is a time of great irrationality and nonsense, also misperception. As always though, it is a great opportunity to re-learn who and what you are as your brain slowly starts to normalise.
This was my revelation this morning as I spent yet another three quarters of my day at home, alone. In the great activity that followed my move (such as joining social groups I wouldn’t normally dream of, taking part in events and making commitments I would normally shudder at in my right mind, over working, over exercising, dramatic appearance change, etc), I had lost sight of my initial dreams of what life would be like when I returned to my home town. It seems my old self has finally (almost eight months later) started making a comeback.
It was a normal morning, beautiful sunshine, basic morning rituals, watching the usual world’s mess on the news, followed by contemplative silence in the house, nothing out of the ordinary. It suddenly occurred to me that I spend way too much time on my own. Hours go by before I speak with another human being; hours in which I spend in such a hive of activity that I hardly notice the solitude. As this thought came into my mind another swiftly followed it; but this isn’t strange, I have always been like this.
You see, I am a hermit by nature. An introvert if you prefer that term. My mind is most alive when I am alone for hours at a time. Yesterday for example, I spent the whole day at home cooking, cleaning re-arranging rooms (while watching movies of course, it’s called multi-tasking). Today more of the same, writing, reading and more cooking for the family. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern because it is who I have always been. I do have to leave the house every day to go to work in the evenings, and my job includes a lot of talking to people and being sociable which is fine by me, comes rather naturally too. However, I have never been one to like company or be around people all of the time, it feels like raw exposure of my soul which is as irritating as nails scratching a board.
I had very much forgotten this part of myself. Since I moved home, being alone was something that I rarely did. I was always around my mom, my cousin, staff members, or at church. The only time I was every truly alone is when I went to bed. I had accepted this as part of my new identity in my new life over here (HaHa!).
Lately I had started to wonder why my normally endless flow of ideas had dried up. Why I had lost motivation to be creative, to put down new and vibrant ideas for songs, painting or poetry. These are things that I was accustomed to while living in Cape Town in the last year especially. I expected to be even more inspired over here with the abundance of nature and lack of modern distractions. The difference you see, is that in Cape Town I lived true to my hermit nature and spent a lot of time alone which gave me plenty of headspace to be creative, intuitive and peaceful. That is the way of the introvert, we recharge best alone and inside of ourselves after which we are ready to face whatever may come at us.
The last time I went through a similar but more brutal tailspin (as it was coupled with culture shock) was when I moved to Cape Town. I have never known myself to behave so erratically and out of character as I did in that time. It is painful even thinking about it. In my prayers to God, enquiring what I should do with my unstable mind I had that revelation to stop all the frantic trying I was doing and just wait six months. I distinctly remember the time frame, and wondering what could possibly change in six months to make me better. But I took the advice, I dropped out of the random church I found on the internet, stopped going to such great lengths to endear myself to people I thought I should be around, stopped trying to fit in so much. If you are a wonderer of the planet you will understand how fitting in is something that starts to stand out when you move homes. Sometimes it is an urge to fit in other times it is rather to stand out, regardless of which it is, you are so much more aware of it than you would normally be.
The good news is that tailspins don’t go on forever. This state is not going to last, your true nature will eventually start to come out as your whole being stabilises. The key as always is to take it as it comes, accept what you want and get rid of what you don’t like. This can be a very refreshing time; if you can get past the dizziness that is.
Julie T. Soko