About fourteen months ago, my husband was offered a position at work away from the city. So we made a joint decision that I would quit my job and move with him to a paradisiacal island that was to be our home for an indefinite period of time.
Little did I realise back then that it wasn’t only my physical body that would be moving. In my eagerness to get to the beach, I had brushed aside the impact this move would also later have on me emotionally and mentally.
Life on paradise was amazing to begin with. But after a few weeks, the holiday feeling ended and I noticed myself becoming bored and restless. It struck me that if I was going to ‘survive’ living on this beautiful island resort, I would need to re-assess myself. You see, I had always held a job, made my own money, been surrounded by people and friends and organised my days around stuff to do. And now, none of this was relevant to me. I was completely free from time constrains, deadlines and financial responsibilities and yet I felt so trapped and isolated.
So to overcome this, I spent my time getting to know the only person on the island that could possibly help with my dissatisfaction – me. Four things have really stood out for me from this experience:
Boredom and restlessness caused me to start taking things for granted and looking at the glass as though it was half empty. But in actual fact, the opportunities around me were endless. Here I was, sitting on bucket loads of free time, so instead of whinging about not having enough to do, I decided to create stuff to do. I got back on my yoga mat, I read more and I started writing children’s books. I did a little of each thing everyday and pretty soon I had developed a routine which kept me happily preoccupied without any time to feel bored or restless. Sometimes when we get too caught up in wanting - have feelings that we’re missing out or lacking something, we forget that if we only look on the flip side, out of every ‘unpleasant’ situation there is opportunity to be found.
One of the biggest lessons for me has been about creating a balanced lifestyle. Not only in the physical sense, by dividing my time between the city and the island, but emotionally as well. Because I was living away from the city; from friends, a great social life and a material world, I started becoming more introspective in relation to who I thought I was, what I wanted to do with my life and what I truly enjoyed doing. While I still don’t have all the answers, it has helped me to discover a lot about myself and as a result, I’ve started doing new things with my life that I never in a million years thought I could do. That said, those ‘city things’; friends, family, your social scene etc. are equally as important as they give the external stimulation needed to have a balanced life. After a while, I noticed that my relationships with people started changing, I moved away from some and grew closer to others, I put more effort into spending quality time with people I loved and on the whole became more selective with my social choices. Quite simply, I had developed a better understanding of myself and as a result, I was partaking in activities and relationships that made me feel happier and more content.
As a result of feeling more balanced and grounded in my life, I not only started feeling happier with less but also with different things. A growing sense of self-assurance, calm and security built itself up as I continued to spend time doing things that I loved such as mala making, writing and spending time in nature. As I was connecting more with myself, I felt more confidence, and as I was starting to honour the right relationships and situations for me, I felt more joy and contentment whenever I did spend time with friends and family. On the whole, I was indeed happier. I don’t preach that you need to move away from the city to feel happy, but I will say that no matter where you live, focus your attention on spending quality time on activities, with people and in environments that you love as these will nurture, inspire and support you.
A lot of what I’ve learned from the above has helped me open up to ways of expression in different forms, but especially with being honest with myself by encouraging self-expression. I’ve gained confidence and inspiration in my creative pursuits. Writing for example, is a pretty personal craft for me and it is with great delight (and sometimes apprehension) that I contribute to this site. I’ve also learned to not shy away from trying new things that could help me express my emotions and thoughts better.
I’d like to think that my experience over the last fourteen months hasn’t changed me as a person, but rather helped me define who I really am. If any of the lessons shared above resonate with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!