Originally, this was going to be an article about change – glorifying it, giving you strategies for how to gracefully achieve it and offering tips and tricks on how to pull it off. I truly thought this would be a wonderful way to help people bust out of their comfort zones and create excitement and achieve greatness. But that was before I did it. Change, that is.
The truth, no matter what anybody else wants you to believe, is that it is uncomfortable. It HAS to be. When they say that the real action and the true buzz is just outside your comfort zone, it honestly is. That’s no lie. The thing I really didn’t understand until making a massive change in my life is that you actually have to feel uncomfortable. There’s no escaping it or prettying it up: for me personally, if I’m honest, it’s not a brilliant feeling.
I know that I have been absolutely blessed with an incredibly rare and precious opportunity to move to another country and set up a life here. I am not downplaying it. It’s a great privilege and one to treasure dearly. This place is beautiful. Eight or nine million visitors each year would no doubt agree that Bath is a wonderful place.
It is also however a really intensely emotional, deeply unsettling, and a highly precarious position to be in – moving a family of four across the world. Yes, we are closer as a family than I think we would have been had we stuck to our same old, same old. And yes, I have moments of complete elation when I look around at my life and I see a whole new world here. I have a chance to recreate myself in a way that is unprecedented and ridiculously exciting.
At the same time, I have days in which I feel despair. When considering my very new (and admittedly very nice) friends it is clear I don’t really know them, just as much as they don’t really know me. There’s no sugar-coating it. It’s a bit weird. My family are only a video call away, but they are still not here. I miss them, and that’s every day. My grandmother doesn’t much like phones so I try not to call, and I write to her instead, but sometimes I selfishly just really need to hear her voice so I call anyway.
So the next question, is why? Why make these immense risky changes in the first place? We had what most consider desirable: a beautiful home by the sea, great careers (well sort of – mine is always able to be improved, I am a writer after all). We have incredible friends and a close extended family – in Sydney. It would be a fair question to ask the reasons for moving away. And people do ask us all the time, why move? Why travel away from the sunshine of Australia to the rainy miserableness of England?
The usual answer we give is that we just felt it was a good idea. We wanted to expose kids to the wider world. We wanted to be in the wider world ourselves as well, to be able to choose from more than Bali or Fiji or Thailand for a holiday destination outside our own country (not that there’s anything wrong with those!). Australia is a beautiful place, but it is a massive island at the edge of the Pacific after all.
And now we are here. We fully committed. We sold, donated and threw out more than half of all our belongings. We transported the rest of them a really, really long way. We had a brief holiday and then we spent weeks setting up our life here: settling the kids into schools, busily renting a home, buying a car, unpacking a container, organising, organising, organising.
It is only now as the dust settles that I’m allowing myself to feel the massive change we have made. Now that we actually have made the change, I can soak it in and process it. I’m completely uncomfortable. I cry some days for no real reason, feeling guilty like I should be more grateful. Truth is, it’s kind of overwhelming.
Still, despite the awkward emotions, I am inexplicably not feeling any regret. I would not turn back, not in a heartbeat. I still feel incredibly grateful to be here even though it’s far from all I know and different in so many ways. Well, actually because of those things. I sit here at my desk in the basement of a four-story Georgian terrace house in the centre of a stunning historic town, and I am elated to now have this experience in my soul’s album.
If there is anything I would say to you if you are considering making such a move it would be to take heart and to steel yourself for challenging moments but to go ahead and do it anyway. The cliché is true. Life IS for living. If you have a glimmer of a chance to shake up your reality and move closer towards the uncomfortable place, GO FOR IT. I mean, what’s the really worst thing that can happen? I guess there’s no other way to find out.