Is our identity fixed or fluid? Can we change who we are? How to seize the day, grasp life by the horns, and become your best version of you.

It’s Spring! (Or is it?)

I originally had a blog post planned for this week about the start of spring. (Those who know me will not be surprised to know that I have a spreadsheet with the posts planned months ahead). It then occurred to me last week that March is not the start of spring but in fact the start of autumn!

There are two possible explanations for my mistake: one is that I am incredibly stupid (but I’d prefer not to go with that one), and the other is that my Britishness is so ingrained in me that I’d somehow forgotten that I’m upside down at the other end of the world.

It’s not like I’ve only just moved here, either; we left the UK in 1997 to move to Singapore and we moved here in 2010, so I’ve lived outside the UK for the last 21 years. Even so, I still refer to going on holiday in the summer (meaning July) and Christmas in my head is always cold. Every time I go to IKEA and see Christmas decorations sold next to outdoor summer furniture it seems weird.

It’s not really homesickness either. I love living here. (I also love going back on holiday, but not enough to move back there.) So what is it?

What is Britishness? I guess it’s different for everyone but to me it’s a sarcastic sense of humour, a love for weird comedy, a taste for curry and beer, history (buildings and people), multi-culturalism, eccentricity, literature, tolerance.

Obviously you can get all these things here and other places, but the point of this post is that your culture is one of the important pillars that make up your identity. Not surprisingly migrants often face conflicting feelings on arrival in their new country, even when the move was much desired. I never felt particularly settled in Singapore, even after 13 years, as the culture is so different to that of the UK. Even when we first moved here I felt unsettled, even though we’d wanted the move for years and moved into a house and area that we already knew well. Most of that unsettled feeling resolved when we made friends, but I still feel odd around Christmas each year and feel surprisingly sentimental about events like the opening ceremony for the London Olympics and the pomp and circumstance of royal weddings.

As a migrant moving here, these unsettled feelings can lead to homesickness and depression, and many migrants end up moving home (“Ping Pong Poms”). Talking through these feelings, with a friend or trained counsellor, can really help, and counselling fees are a lot cheaper than the cost of moving back!

It’s also worth giving some thought to what else makes up your identity and whether your identity is fixed or fluid. Transitions in life, whether it be moving across the world, having children, your children starting school, your children leaving home, or retirement, all present their challenges and can shake your sense of self. If, for example, you’ve spent years devoting most of your time and energy to your family then it’s hard to get back to the you that you’d been before when they start school or leave home.

But if our identity is fluid, such challenges present us with opportunities – we don’t have to be the same person we were before, we can reinvent ourselves. I’ve been lucky enough to meet people who’ve started new careers, launched successful new businesses, created amazing not-for-profit organisations, gone to university as mature students; basically grasped life by the horns and seized all the opportunities presented.

But it’s not that easy. Most of us wrestle with self-doubt, procrastination, anxiety and other emotional blockages as well as having to overcome practical and logistical barriers.

It’s time for the advert for my services now; much as I’m enjoying writing these blog posts,  that is the point of them. Professional help can really help you to work out who you are, clarify your goals, identify and manage your emotional blockages, and develop strategies to remove those barriers. I believe that my unique set of skills in management, training and counselling can help you do just that and I’d love to help. Call me and become your best version of you.

P.S. If your kids are starting school, you may want to read my post here. If you or they are starting university, then take a look here, here and here.

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