Rinse and Repeat
My favourite part of living in Europe is all the remarkable life lessons I learn and the opportunity I have, to reflect on life. When you enter a different environment, you have the rare chance to view every aspect of your life from a different angle. One of these moments was about 9 months after I arrived in the Netherlands, as I walked into work that day, I suddenly thought: “This feels different; more comfortable and familiar”.
Before that moment, I haven’t really thought about the role of repetition in our lives. Somewhere in my past (I’m going to guess this was at school) the idea of talent and what am I good at was introduced and this have always been more of a focus for me. I was prone to thinking things like “I’m good at math but not at sport” but that day it suddenly dawned on me. What really makes us good at something, or successful, is repetition. It’s not being excellent at it the first day but it is about showing up every day and trying again until it becomes easier.
For me that is the key ingredient when you move to another country. The Netherlands is the second time I have immigrated. About 10 years ago I moved from South Africa to Scotland. When I first arrived in Scotland, one suitcase in hand, everything was brand new and exciting and then after a while I started noticing how I miss the familiar. There is something very comforting in those familiar places, like walking down a street you have walked many times.
I now take comfort from knowing that every part of my new life gets easier the more I do it: speaking a different language, going to shops, buying a house, working, travelling. It just takes the courage to show up and do it and keep doing it. I used to judge myself on how good I did on the first day but now I realise I just have to come back (and sometimes that part is the hardest) and do it again. And one day you realise - ‘hey, this is easy!’ Or at least a little easier. Everything start to feel more familiar, more comfortable and some day, dare I say, it may even feel like home. And in the meantime, it is fun to discover my new favourite places, which one day may be my familiar places.