Guest Blog: Transitions are…
This is another update from one of our favorite guest bloggers, Bianca Mona.
Where do I start? Let’s see…
- Change is HARD and constant.
- Transition is usually longer than expected.
- Following dreams brings discomfort, isolation, and loneliness.
Hmmmmm… I’ll start with this.
Relocation/starting new/new beginning is hard. It’s emotionally taxing. You doubt and question yourself constantly. “What am I doing?” “What is the purpose?” “What do I want to get out of this?” Most days I am fine. I explore new spaces and meet with new folks. I live. But there are other moments. Moments when I’m crabby and sad. Moments when I feel like it’s me against the world. It’s with this energy that I write this piece. As I write, I am tearing up, mostly out of isolation and fear of the unknown.
Upon my arrival, I was reading tons of travel and expat blogs. I was looking for tips and suggestions on A) what I should be doing with my time and 2) mechanisms to cope and adjust. I didn’t find any of this. I did however, find a posting that questioned why one relocates. It asked the reader to consciously consider what she intends to get out of this relocation. Now, believe it or not, this was the first time I really thought, “Bianca, why are you really in South Africa and what do you want to get out of it?” My initial thoughts around going to South Africa were simple:
- I was ready to leave the US. I consider myself a global citizen and way back in 6th grade I told myself that I would live around the world. I had reached a professional and personal lull in the US. No great job thing happening. My relationship was rocky and slowly coming to an end. And I was living with my momma. So I thought, why not?
- I wanted to live in Africa. Yes, I do have aspirations to go many places in the world but after many trips to the Caribbean and Central America, I thought it time to travel to my ancestral home continent, even if not in the exact location.
- Last, I needed to be somewhere, where I could continue to work as an arts educator, administrator, and curator. South Africa was great for that as its major cities are cultural and artistic hubs.
But now that I am here, (and after reading that blog), I now am faced with reevaluating those initial reasons. South Africa is nothing like what I expected. Cape Town in particular can be homogeneously like any other beach town in the world. The city itself, as well as its environs lacks cultural distinction. I don’t necessary feel like I’m in Africa and thus am not being challenged by the everydayness of a “developing” nation. So, I’m not feeling too global here.
In addition, I am currently not working and so my hopes of developing professionally are stalled. This halt definitely has me evaluating why I’m here. For years, I’ve said “a job doesn’t define me. I am so much more than a career.” But let me be real here, for a moment. Someone like myself who has two Master’s degrees and about to begin working on a doctorate is more than concerned with making a professional dent. I have knowledge and skills that I want to utilize and am frustrated that these organizations aren’t valuing these assets. (Yes, I know this is ego talking.)
So now I’m faced with some internal reflection. “Why and what Bianca do you hope to get out of this adventure?” I don’t quite have an answer but when I evaluate how I have grown, I do see progress. Here’s what I have some up with (surprisingly).
I actually am overwhelmingly proud to say that I have survived, at times thrived, in South Africa. This is with limited resources and a tight budget. From when I arrived I have continued to build both professional and community networks with the help of friends, friends of friends and others. I have learned the layout of two major cities and survived their public transit systems (which leaves a girl’s head spinning). Personally, I have flourished. Prior to moving to South Africa, I was a wall flower. No really. I was notorious for going to art openings and not speaking to a soul. If I was with my mom and saw a neighbor, I wouldn’t even speak. My mom would greet them and I wouldn’t say a word, rationalizing this by thinking of her as the family representative. (Yes, I know a hot mess!) But I have changed. I go up to strangers and introduce myself. I make jokes and smile at strangers. I ask all types of questions, to get information, until I’m blue in the face. I’m finally personable (without mentally preparing myself to be). And in general I ask for what I want and will not take no for an answer. I’ll take a compromise but not no.
All this to say, I don’t really know why I’m in South Africa (this is not totally a bad thing) or what I hope to get out of it. But I do know that I am open and will stay here until it’s time for me to go. And that’s still to be determined.